United States Welcomes Key e-Japan Recommendations by IT Strategy Headquarters

In public comments submitted on June 12, 2003, the Government of the United States welcomed key recommendations included in the e-Japan Strategy II (e-Japan II) which was recently adopted by the IT Strategic Headquarters (ITSH) headed by Prime Minister Koizumi. The United States shares the view that to spur growth it is necessary to promote the utilization of IT in key sectors such as medical care, finance, education, and government services. gWe welcome the ITSHfs recognition of the instrumental role the IT sector plays in bringing about structural and regulatory reform and revitalizing Japanfs economy,h Ambassador Howard Baker said.

The United States highly commends the ITSHfs recognition that success of the strategy for e-Japan II will depend heavily on meaningful structural reform. Several of the policies and objectives outlined in e-Japan II coincide with the issues the Governments of Japan and the United States have been working on under the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative. Ambassador Baker added, gThe United States strongly supports the ITSHfs bold emphasis on structural reform and private sector leadership included in e-Japan II.h

As highlighted in the e-Japan II report, Japan is at a critical juncture for successfully realizing the tremendous growth potential of its IT sector. To ensure successful implementation, the United States strongly supports the ITSHfs recognition of the need to improve coordination among the relevant ministries and agencies. Towards this end, the United States urges the Government of Japan to provide the ITSH with the resources and mechanisms needed to effectively manage and coordinate the implementing measures.

In its public comment, the United States also urges the ITSH and the Government of Japan to address the following important overarching concerns to ensure the successful implementation of e-Japan II and lead to the revitalization of Japanfs economy through the effective utilization of IT:

Private Sector Leadership: The United States endorses the ITSHfs strong support for private sector leadership in implementing e-Japan II. The United States also supports the establishment of the new organization that will become an experts committee under the ITSH to evaluate implementation of e-Japan II, and urges the ITSH to ensure that experts from non-Japanese entities can participate in this Committee. The ITSH and the evaluation process of e-Japan II can only benefit from the expertise and international perspective of experts from non-Japanese entities, especially in light of the borderless nature of IT and Japanfs goal of becoming a global leader in IT.

Technological Neutrality: E-Japan II proposes a range of policy initiatives, many of which have considerable merit, such as promoting and expanding the utilization of IT in key areas including government services, deployment of a next-generation communication infrastructure, and a focus on security. In implementing these policies, the United States urges Japan not to resort to promoting specific companies, technologies, and standards, which would distort the market, prevent true innovation and market-oriented responses, and continue to hobble the IT sector.

Transparency: The Government of Japan's decision to develop a Priority Policy Program later this year to accomplish the goals of e-Japan II is also welcome. There are, however, some specific concerns that the United States raised in its public comment about the proposed measures and policy objectives under e-Japan II for such areas as intellectual property, government services, deployment of a next-generation information communication infrastructure, and cyber-security. It is critically important for the ITSH to ensure that the Priority Policy Program clarifies specific measures on how policies/goals are to be implemented. It is also important to recognize that many of the complex and crosscutting issues involved with the e-Japan II policies and goals will require ongoing consultations between the government and private sector. The most appropriate way to facilitate private sector input would be through the regular use of an open and transparent public comment process during all stages of the development and implementation of e-Japan II.

The United States Government commends the ITSH for providing the public with this important opportunity to participate and provide input in the Government of Japanfs development of the second stage of its e-Japan Strategy through e-Japan II, as it moves the focus from infrastructure (the emphasis in the original e-Japan) to the utilization of IT. The United States looks forward to meaningful participation and collaboration throughout the implementation process for the policy goals and measures of the upcoming Priority Policy Program, as well as on other emerging issues related to IT.