Vice Chairman, Keidanren
President, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd.
The Information revolution continues to progress, while the 21st Century is approaching just before us. Rapid implementation of information infrastructure has produced dramatic improvement in both quality and quantity of information access. Moreover, access speed has shown enormous progress. According to the "Information Whitepaper", the number of people using the Internet in Japan in 1998 reached almost 17 million, an increment of 5 million compared to the previous year, and among companies, 80% were utilizing the Internet.
The U.S. experience demonstrates that a dramatic increase in opportunities for information access, through the Internet and such, in both private life and business fields, is inevitable in the future. That is why investment in IT has been quite intensive in the financial world, in older to offer customers more high-tech goods and services quickly. Adopting polices that are suitable for these trends has become an extremely important priority for company management.
Last July, in response to these circumstances, Keidanren announced the "Proposal for a Five-year Plan for the 'Digital New Deal' Project". The proposal emphasized that the development of information technology, such as Internet business, will contribute tremendously to enriching the quality of life for Japanese people. The expansion of IT capabilities will reinforce industrial competitiveness and improve service effectiveness by the government and its agencies.
Among the elements of proposal, "Adoption of an 'Information Literacy Charter' and Promotion of the Use of Computers in Education" is most remarkable. I consider leaning opportunities for young to be the first step in implementing an infrastructure for the upcoming highly information-oriented society. The youth of today will lead the information-oriented society of the next generation. In older to realize the hard aspect of information technology, it is necessary to provide an environment in which students feel friendly toward PCs and the Internet. This can be achieved by distributing PCs to elementary and secondary schools nationwide. Moreover, it is essential to take measures that enable schoolteachers to utilize the Internet fully, considering its soft aspects. By investing with emphasis on both hard and soft aspects of information technology, I expect to see the development of an excellent workforce that can actively adapt to the new information-oriented society. The result will be the constant improvement of international competitiveness of our country in the information field.