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TOKYO, April 25 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

PRECIOUS TIME BEING WASTED IN MINISTERIAL IT TURF FEUD (Asahi Evening News as translated from the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun)

Central government ministries are locking horns in a fierce turf war over information technology (IT). The primary contenders in the battle are the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. They are at odds over policy that addresses what industries the government is to support and what the intended social benefits will be from Internet-based commerce, and they are trying to establish new organizations to make and implement IT policy.

The Posts and Telecommunications Ministry is being particularly aggressive in the IT realm. A report on telecommunication prospects in the 21st century has been presented to the ministry by the Telecommunications Council, an advisory panel, with the subtitle ''Information Technology in Japan for All.'' It seems the ministry wants to be seen as the mover and shaker of the domestic IT revolution.

Not to be outdone by the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, the people at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry have their own advisory panel, the Industrial Structure Council, which has come up with its recommendations, in ''Tasks and Prospect of Economic and Industrial Policy in the 21st Century.''

This report emphasizes the importance of upgrading the infrastructure to utilize the benefits of the information society and considering the disadvantaged in information applications. It also urges strengthened protection of intellectual property and consumer protection. The Ministry of International Trade and Industry takes pride in being a principle player in economic and industrial policy.

As the Internet develops, there is a blurring distinction between broadcasting and other communications. The wall that divides two government ministries can be an obstacle in the formation of the ground rules of cyberspace. This is a concern because the same ministries once squabbled over who should administer value-added networks.

The government intends to address the ''digital divide'' issue -- the gap between the haves and have-nots in information that grows as the spread of information technology continues -- making it one of the items on the agenda for the Group of Eight (G-8) countries in Okinawa and Kyushu in July. The nations of the world have many points to deal with, such as consumer protection in e-commerce and response to cyber-terrorism. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry cannot afford to waste time in ministerial strife. (April 25)
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 1, 2000
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