Proposals for realization of a free, fair and transparent information and telecommunications market
--Aiming for structural reform and economic rejuvenation--
As the 21st century approaches, major competition on an international scale is intensifying, society is rapidly aging and having fewer children, and economies are maturing. In the midst of these trends, efforts are being undertaken to maintain and develop economic vitality and maintain and strengthen international competitiveness, and securing employment opportunities for the workers of the nation is also an urgent problem. For Japan, it is necessary to reform the conventional socioeconomic system and correct the high cost structure in addition to boosting existing industries and planning for development of new growth industries.
Hopes are high for information communication as the driving force that promotes structural reform in that kind of economic society. This is because a high degree of utilization of information communication technology will enable cost cutting, swifter decision making, smoothing of global activities and expansion of business opportunities. In addition, the information communication industry is expected to be a centerpiece of leading industries in the 21st century spurring development in a wide range of industrial fields.
Even at Keidanren, efforts have been made from before to prepare an environment for both the supply and demand of information communication from the perspective of the user, such as activating the information communication market and promoting information development by businesses, government and society. Last July, the "Proposal on Promoting Information Development" was compiled, and work was started on information development in the public sector starting with the government and preparing an environment for informatization of industry. On the supply side, efforts have been undertaken to prepare equitable competition conditions and to deregulate the information communication market, including the "Opinion on the Current State of the Information Communication Market" in January 1996, and "Problems in Promoting Competition in the Information Communication Market" in October 1996. In the information communication market, it is possible to say that competition has been developing since the liberalization of communications in 1985 against a background of gradual deregulation and continuing basic rule judgments.
At present, actions aimed at developing various services and compliance and coordination in the communications industry are strengthening with the approaching of NTT's reorganization in 1999 and an era of full-fledged global competition, and in addition, communications and broadcasting are also being fused thanks to technological innovations, creating the so-called information communication big bang. On the other hand, as the economic slowdown continues to drag on, anticipation is growing that information communication will promote rejuvenation of the economy and prompt reform in people's daily lives. Furthermore, information communication, which overcomes the restrictions of distance and time, will contribute to the creation of a rich nation through regional economic rejuvenation and regional self-reliance.
Hence, this paper examines, from the standpoint of the user, the state of policies the information communication industry of Japan uses to strongly develop the industry while meeting the expectations of users, and in particular focuses on the state of competition in the telecommunications industry.