"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Japan's Comprehensive Co-operation Package to Address the International Digital Divide, Okinawa Summit

[Date] July 14, 2000
[Source] http://www.g8kyushu-okinawa.go.jp/e/theme/it.html
[Full text]

1. Background

(1) The upcoming G8 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit is set to highlight the need for strengthening co-operative efforts in particular to address the international digital divide, taking into consideration the following viewpoints:

a) As information and communications technology (IT) extends throughout the world, its benefits also expand. It is therefore vital to disseminate and utilise IT over the widest possible area, including in developing countries, so that the benefits of IT can be maximised on a global scale.

b) The digital divide may serve to widen the economic divide between developed and developing countries, with repercussions on the future stability of the international community.

(2) Given the need for co-operation among all stakeholders, including government, the business community, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations in addressing these challenges, as well as the diverse conditions and needs of developing countries, the Summit is also expected to stress the importance of action focused on such areas as:

a) Strengthening the policy environment for disseminating IT;

b) Developing IT infrastructure;

c) Developing human resources to underpin the dissemination of IT;

d) Active utilisation of IT in the area of development assistance.

(3) A significant divide exists between developed and developing countries, with developing countries collectively lacking the following:

* IT-related investment and capital

* IT infrastructure and the systems and know-how to build it

* IT experts

* Necessary equipment

* Infrastructure and know-how for using the Internet

(4) The distinctiveness of IT will enable the formation of a positive cycle.

a) The dissemination of IT in developing countries will contribute to the further enhancement of IT in Japan itself.

b) Disseminating IT throughout the Asia-Pacific region can also be a key to Japan's dynamic growth.

2. Basic Concepts of the Co-operation Package

(1) To provide flexible co-operation systematically combining all forms of policy instrument in a manner which complements the active efforts of the private sector.

(2) To ensure that efforts in target areas are coherent, encompassing the whole realm of IT-related policy in developing countries.

(3) To give special consideration in implementing action to the importance of co-operative relations with the Asia-Pacific region, while basing co-operation at a global level. Furthermore, duly acknowledging that "networking" is a vital key in disseminating IT world wide, to endeavour to enhance inter-regional co-operative alliances.

(4) To focus due attention on collaboration with relevant international organisations and other donors with a view to global co-operation and the promotion of network development.

3. Specific Action

IT development is spearheaded by the private sector, with the role of the public sector to complement private-sector initiatives by focusing on policy, human resources development and other areas. Responding to this, Japan prepares a comprehensive co-operation package for bridging the "Digital Divide" consisting of non-ODA (Official Development Assistance) (OOF: Other Official Flows) and ODA public funding with the view to extending a total of US$ 15 billion over five years.

In implementing co-operation, Japan will attach importance to collaboration with the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and other international organisations, such as contributions to World Bank IT innovation initiative .

(1) Raising Awareness of IT Opportunities and Contributing Intellectually to Policy and Institution-building

Having convened the International Symposium on Information Technology and Development Co-operation in Tokyo on 3-4 July, in order to raise awareness of the opportunities that IT presents, Japan will provide assistance to developing countries for formulation of IT friendly policy and implementation in such areas as IT dissemination policy in line with developing countries' needs, improvement of legal systems and the prevention of cyber-crime and others.

(2) Developing and Training Human Resources

The education and training of technical experts to introduce and make use of IT is essential for promoting IT in developing countries. At the same time, it is also vital to develop human resources responsible for policy formulation to promote IT dissemination and to incorporate IT into development plans. Taking into account the above two aspects, Japan will provide assistance, mainly in the form of technical co-operation, for the training of over 10,000 individuals during the next five years.

(3) Building IT Infrastructure and Providing Assistance for Network Establishment

In order to establish an appropriate environment for developing countries to actively introduce IT, Japan will extend co-operation for improvement of information and communication infrastructures that serve as the basis of promotion of IT. The co-operation will be made in the fields of IT as well as of relevant information and communications. Further, Japan will provide co-operation toward the establishment of inter-and intra-regional networks.

(4) Promoting the Use of IT in Development Assistance

In extending ODA in general, Japan will also promote the use of IT in areas such as distance training, distance learning and the provision of medical care. As part of such efforts, Japan will evolve human development project sites into core-IT centres in developing countries. As the first phase in this endeavour, Japan will establish 30 core-IT centres, and seek to establish network connections where possible, with the initiatives of international organisations, such as the World Bank's global distance learning initiatives. At the same time, Japan will use the Okinawa International Center of the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) as one of its core institutions to provide development-related information as well as IT-related distance learning.