body top image
Issue 5: Social and Cultural Issues - Japan (page 3)

Social, Cultural and Economic Issues in the Digital Divide - Literature Review and Case Study of Japan

(continued)


Discussion and Future Development

Since Japan has been rapidly expanding the number of its mobile Internet users, some Japanese companies and scholars have argued that mobile Internet access represents a unique model for overcoming the digital divide (Nakayama, 2001; Mikami, 2001; Kaigo & Sasaki, 2001). Some of them, such as Nakayama, suggest that mobile Internet access will become the universal standard, especially in Asian countries. The largest population in the world, for example, uses Chinese characters. However, unlike the Japanese language which is a mixture of Japanese and Chinese characters, the Chinese language uses alphabet typing. Every Chinese character is pronounced in its alphabet. Because the Chinese do not experience the same barriers as the Japanese, it is hard to say whether the Japanese model will become the universal model or not.

Mobile Internet access may hide a different kind of digital divide in Japan and elsewhere, due to the lower access speed, the smaller amount of accessible information on the handhold computer, and the entertainment-oriented websites catering to mobile Internet usage. The mobile web is less robust. Quite possibly, the input method popular with the Japanese-one-thumb input with 10 digital might lead to weakened Japanese digital skills and diminished information literacy. Since English is the dominant language of the Internet, the Japanese solution of developing web-enabled mobile phones in response to the digital divide should be very carefully examined (Kaigo, 2002).

To close the real information gap in Japan, it will be necessary to create more useable forms of information technology and provide computer skill training, cultivate a greater understanding about the importance of the Internet-digital opportunity, and increase contact with computers. Regional seminars now provide support for those Japanese seeking access to the Internet. The seminars will make a significant difference when they address cultural as well as information and technology concerns (Sekine, 2002).

Also, it is necessary to realize that without technological innovation in terms of making the man-machine interface much friendlier, the digital divide cannot be closed in Japan. Broadband access significantly affects this issue because high speed data transmission provides sound, video, and rich graphical images. The digital divide will be divided further according to who has hardware and software for accessing these new forms of entertainment and information (Kuttan and Peters, 2003).

Role of Broadband Satellite Communications in Japan

One of the emerging technologies, broadband satellite communications, will be an important solution in bridging information gaps in Japan where broadband access has not reached, or cannot be reached. Japan is a country with mountains, frequent earthquakes and volcanoes, and many isolated islands. Satellite communication is extremely useful for building regional access networks. The satellite provides wide coverage and high speed data transmission by-passing ground networks.

The National Space Development Agency of Japan conducted a Wideband InterNetworking engineering test and Demonstration Satellite Project (WINDS) in 2001 under the Japanese government policy, e-Japan Strategy. The project has as its goal is to make Japan the most advanced IT nation in the world by 2005. Under the strategy, a new satellite telecommunication system (WINDS) will be developed to provide ultra high speed-Internet (up to 1.2 Gbps) to be launched by 2005. In 2003, the configuration of the satellite system is close to its final design. Not only will WINDS address regional information gaps in Japan but also serve to the global digital divide in the Asia-Pacific region.

In short, while the United States has been the leader in Internet-related technology development, the Japanese hope to be leaders contributing to development of mobile internet communication, human interface technology, and information appliances.

issue picture
Figure 3. Concept of WINDS Application Experiment


REFERENCES

  • Aizu, I. (2002, September). A comparative study of broadband in Asia: Development and policy. Paper Presented at the Asia Economic Integration - Current Status and Prospects Symposium hosted by the Research Institute of International Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI) [Online] Retrieved May 3, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.rieti.go.jp/en/events/02042201/report_1.html
  • Chua, S. L., Chen, D.T. & Wong, A. F. L. (1999). Computer anxiety and its correlates: A meta-analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 15(5), 609-623.
  • Compaine, B. M. (1998). Information gaps: Myth or reality? Norwood, N.J: Ablex Pub. Corp.
  • Compaine, B. M. (2001). The digital divide: facing a crisis or creating a myth? Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Davis Foulger (December 1, 2001). The cliff and the continuum: defining the digital divide. Discuss IAMCR & ICA Symposium on Digital Divide: November, 2001. Retrieved May 3, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://pages.prodigy.net/ davis_foulger/articles/cliffAndContinuum.htm
  • Dentsu P & D Digital Research Division. (2002). Zenkoku digital Lifestyle chousa (National digital lifestyle survey.), [Online] Retrieved May 3, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.dentsu.co.jp/marketing/digital_life/digilife2002.pdf
  • Digital Opportunity Site (2003). Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications. Retrieved May 3, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.dosite.jp/e/index.php
  • Hashimoto, Y. (2001). Internet he shinraikan to Internet shakaikan fuan (Internet credibility, social views and anxiety). Internet no riyodoukou nikansuru jitaichousa houhokokusho 2000 (Report 2000: servey on trends in Internet usage). Pp. 99-114.
  • Igbaria, M. & Chakrabarti, A. (1990). Computer anxiety and attitudes towards microcomputer use. Behavior and Information Technology, 9(3), 229-241. Internet Association Japan. (2002). Internet white paper. Tokyo: Impress Corporation.
  • Japan Post. (2002). Survey on the Trends of the use of telecommunications. Retrieved May 10, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.zaimu.yusei.go.jp/tokei/tdmokuji.html
  • Kuttan, A., & Peters, L. (2003). From digital divide to digital opportunity. Boston: A Scarecrow Press.
  • Kaigo, M. & Sasaki, T. (2001). Cognitive and affective factors of new information and communication technology usage and the digital divide in Japan. Paper Presented at the international association for media and communication research, International Communication Association Joint symposium on the digital divide, Austin.TX. [Online] Retrieved May 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://communication.utexas.edu/college/digital _divide_symposium/papers/kaigosasaki.pdf
  • Mikami, S. (2001). Internet no riyojokyo. (the situation of use Internet). Internet no riyodoukou nikansuru jitaichousa houhokokusho 2000 (Report 2000: servey on trends in Internet usage) Tokyo: Communication Research Laboratory. Pp.5-34.
  • Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunication, Japan. (2001). White Paper on Information and Telecommunications in Japan. Retrieved May 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.soumu.go.jp/joho_tsusin/eng/index.html
  • Mun-cho, K., & Jong-Kil, K. (2001). Digital divide: conceptual discussions and prospect. In The human society and the internet: internet related socio-economic issues, First International Conference Human. Society@Internet 2001, Seoul, Korea: proceedings / Won Kim ... [et al.], (Eds.) New York: Springer, 2001
  • Nakamura, S. (2002). From PC to mobile Internet-overcoming the digital divide in Japan. Asian Journal of Social Science, 30 (2), 239.
  • NTIA. (1999). Falling through the net: Defining the digital divide [Online] Retrieved May 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/digitaldivide/
  • Norris, P. (2001). Digital divide: Civic engagement, information poverty, and the Internet worldwide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nua Internet Surverys. (2002). How many on lines? Retrieved May 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.nua.ie/surveys/how_many_online/
  • Parasuraman, S. & Igbaria, M. (1990). An examination of gender differences in the determinants of computer anxiety and attitudes toward microcomputers among managers. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 32(3), 327-340.
  • Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. (2003). IT Strategy Headquarters. Retrieved May 12, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/it2/kettei/020618gaiyou.html
  • Sekine, C. (2002). The role of universal design: closing the gap of digital divide in Japan. Tokyo: Universal Design Institution for Information Technology. [Online] Retrieved May 5, 2003 from the World Wide Web: http://www.global-society-dialogue.org/zsekine.pdf.
  • Shinohara, T. (June, 2002). Community-oriented communication development in Japan's rural areas. Geneva: ITU-D Focus Group.
  • Wind project. (2003). NASDA Oficial Site. Retrieved May 10, 2003 from the World Wide Web:
    http://www.aptsec.org/DD-WTDC-02/default.htm.
    http://www.nasda.go.jp/lib/nasda-news/2003/03/head_e.html

page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | top  

filler image
body bottom image