WSIS: World Summit on the Information Society
Statement by H.E.Mr. Taro Aso
Minister for Public Management, Home Affairs,
Posts and Telecommunications
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
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
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
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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