A bizarre plan to censor virtually all online communication and content was quietly unveiled by the Japanese government on 6 December 2007. They seem to believe they can succeed where China failed. Bloggers are drawing attention to the plan, thank goodness.
With little fanfare from local or foreign media, the Japanese government made major moves this month toward legislating extensive regulation over online communication and information exchange within its national borders. In a series of little-publicized meetings attracting minimal mainstream coverage, two distinct government ministries, that of Internal Affairs and Communications (Somusho) and that of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Monbukagakusho), pushed ahead with regulation in three major areas of online communication: web content, mobile phone access, and file sharing.
The first move to enforce the plan was made on 10 December. You can see where they're coming from, but where are they going? Is this scary or simply ludicrous?
Chris Salzberg: Final Report on Internet Regulation analyses the differences between the interim report and the final report. Astonishingly, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications received hardly any responses on their web site inviting comments:
The interim report also recommended that public opinions be sought on the issue, so back in June and July the ministry opened a space on its webpage for people to submit comments. Later coverageKDDI and Sky Perfect Communications were in favour of legal restructuring but expressed reservations about the regulation of content, the Keidanren, Asahi Television, Fuji Television, Japan's public broadcaster NHK, and the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association were entirely against the plans. Many organizations, including Yahoo Japan, requested clarity about the range of what exactly constitutes â€œopen communicationâ€. Later coverage indicated that the government received a total of 276 responses, 222 from individuals and the remaining 54 from organizations.