United Nations  International Telecommunication Union  






WSIS: World Summit on the Information Society


Statement by H.E.Mr. Taro Aso

Minister for Public Management, Home Affairs,

Posts and Telecommunications


(Good Afternoon)


1.  Introduction:


Your Excellencies, Honorable Government Representatives,

Distinguished  Participants and Guests:


I am honored to have this opportunity to speak to you today, here

in this beautiful city of Geneva.  On behalf of the Japanese people,

I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the warm

welcome extended to us by President Couchepin, representatives

of the Swiss Government, and all of the citizens of Geneva.


I also extend my appreciation to Secretary-General Annan of the

United Nations, President Samassekou of the Preparatory

Committee, Secretary-General Utsumi of the International

Telecommunication Union (ITU) and everyone involved,  for their

efforts over the last two years to make this important Summit

meeting possible today.


I believe, fundamentally, that humankind has a bright future, this

means not only the people of Japan, but indeed, all of humanity. 

One of the best reasons for optimism is the dynamic influence

technological progress has had, and surely will have, in our lives.


Looking back at the 20th century, regardless of many adversities

and blows preventing human development, such as large scale

wars and oil crises,  among others,  our progress far surpassed

that of all previous centuries put together.  Take life expectancy,

education, and transportation, for example.  Could anyone have

imagined the human and technological developments of the 20th



When we think of the reasons such growth was possible, we

cannot forget the phenomenal inventions that took place in the

last 100 years in all areas of our lives, much more than in the

2,000 years before.


Let me briefly touch upon the global revolution in the

telecommunications sector, as an example.  Even as recently as

10 years ago, highly specialized and complicated research would

have required time consuming and expensive visits to the British

Museum in London, the National Library in Paris or the Library of

Congress in Washington, privileges available only to those

with considerable time and money.  However, today, access

to all of these resources is possible through the internet from

anywhere in the world.     


The splendid growth and expansion of the 20th century will be

carried on into the 21st century.     The vast knowledge of

information and brain power cannot disappear from the Internet,

even should we face a crisis.


Progress in the last 100 years is due largely to the advancement

of knowledge.  This advancement in knowledge is an irreversible

phenomena which came about with the spread and accessibility

of higher education  to the public.



Let us reflect on the history of progress at this WSIS meeting and

believe in a prosperous future society supported by information

and communications technologies.


I strongly hope that such prosperity will assist  in dealing with

such common issues as global security, and will contribute to the

development of an even better society.


2. Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Conference in Tokyo


Japan shares this vision, and clearly recognizes the importance of

this Summit and has worked actively to contribute to its success.


For example, in January of this year, Japan hosted the Asia-

Pacific Regional Preparatory Conference in Tokyo.  Prime

Minister Koizumi was joined by more than 600 individuals

representing the governments of about 60 countries and various

non-government organizations.



3. Promoting the Spread of Broadband Environment:


In January of 2001, the Japanese Government drafted the

e-Japan Strategy, a national strategy developed through

cooperative efforts between the public and private sectors.  Its

aim was for Japan to achieve the status of the world’s most

advanced nation in “information and communications

technology” (ICT).  As a result, the world’s fastest and least

expensive broadband environment is now being realized.


 In July of this year, the government further announced the e-

Japan Strategy Two (II) to promote one of the world’s leading

approaches to the application of ICT in seven sectors:  such

sectors as in the medical care services, food, daily living and

administrative services.  This program attempts to bring ICT

achievements and the broadband environment closer to people’s



However, achieving a wide broadband environment only in

Japan or in select countries is not enough.  We are striving to

overcome the so called “digital divide” by deploying and

expanding broadband networks, cooperating  with more

countries to bring their benefits to more people. 


In July 2000, the Japanese Government announced “Japan’s

comprehensive Cooperation Package to Address the

International Digital Divide”, prior to the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. 

This package consists of ODA and other official funding,  with the

view to extending a total of US$ 15 billion over five years from

2000.      As you may know, the amount of US$ 4.5 billion has been

used so far for implementation of assistance activities for

developing countries in Africa, Asia  and other regions.


Against this backdrop, in March of this year, with the cooperation

of academia and industries in Japan and other Asian countries,

we formulated the Asia Broadband Program. This program

prepared an action plan to achieve its objectives of developing a

broadband environment and accessibility in Asia.


I believe that the adoption of the WSIS Declaration of Principles

and Action Plan is vital.  However, at the same time, it is also

extremely important to actually implement them.  In that respect,

I believe that the implementation of the Asia Broadband Program

can play an important role in contributing to the realization of the

Summit Declaration.


In addition to affirming the development of ICT infrastructure, the

Declaration of Principles of this Summit also affirms the

fundamental principles of drawing real  benefits from ICT

applications.  These include access to information, capacity

building, ensuring security, importance of media, and ensuring

cultural diversity.  Japan will also strive for success in these




4. Contributions to the Achievement of a Ubiquitous

Network Society:


Together with broadband conversion of fixed line communication

network, Japan is leading the way in spreading the third

generation mobile phone services,  by broadband conversion of

mobile telephone communications.  Many countries around the

world have also begun to rapidly spread wireless LAN and

technology, to create device-to-device networks, such as the

development of wireless tags. All of these technologies will be

indispensable to achieving the goal of “universal, ubiquitous,

equitable and affordable access to ICT infrastructure and

services” proclaimed in the WSIS Declaration of Principles.


The concept of “ubiquitous networks” is networks that connect,

not only people to people but also connect people to devices

and devices to devices.  I have great expectations for the

realization of a ubiquitous network society where social and

economic activities are supported by “networks that can be used

by anyone, anytime and anywhere”.  This “ubiquitous network

society” can create a totally new information society where

individuals will be able to enjoy the benefits of “ sustainable

economic growth” and a “safe and secure society”.


I very much look forward for this WSIS to serve as a venue to

spur development of the 21st-century information society, in

conjunction with a strong cooperation between the ITU and other



A steady implementation of the Declaration of Principles and the

Plan of Action will be required towards the Second Phase, to be

held in Tunisia in 2005.  To ensure the success of the Second

Phase, Japan pledges to continue contributing to these efforts to

the maxim degree possible, while continuing to cooperate with

the ITU and a broad range of international organizations.


Thank you. . 




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Updated : 2003-12-12