The global Internet population now totals 160 million. Few would doubt, given the growth of the Internet and rapid pace of innovation in the information-technology sector, that we are becoming a fully networked society.
In the United States, which has led the world in the shift to electronic commerce, groups of companies have used sophisticated models of electronic commerce to settle transactions among one another, enabling them to achieve dynamic international competitiveness. These companies are now driving the robust performance of the American economy. Electronic commerce between companies and consumers also took off in earnest as a full-fledged market during the 1998 Christmas shopping season.
Japan is said to be 2-3 years behind the United States in inter-company trading and 5-6 years behind in the area of consumer-company commerce. While the strength of the U.S. economy cannot be attributed entirely to this leadership in electronic commerce, it has clearly made an important contribution to the establishment of efficient and rational business models.
Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) has established a Working Group on Promotion of Electronic Commerce under the leadership of Seiichi Shimada, Senior Executive Managing Director of Mitsui & Co. Ltd. The Working Group is set up within the Subcommittee on Information Development(chaired by Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. Adviser Takao Isoyama) of the Committee on Information & Telecommunication Policy (chaired by Hitachi Zosen Corporation Chairman Yoshihiro Fujii). Its activities will include interviews with executives of leading companies in the area of electronic commerce, surveys of major Keidanren member firms, exchanges of views with academic experts and government officials, and analyses of various resources. Through these processes, the Working Group hopes to identify problems and suggest approaches to their solution.
The Proposal begins with General Remarks, which sees the importance to Japan of efforts to develop electronic commerce and outlines the issues that will need to be dealt with in such an effort, together with suggested approaches to the expansion of electronic commerce by Japanese industry and government. The Detailed Analysis represents the thinking on specific issues relating to electronic commerce based on the results of surveys of key member firms and discussions by the various teams established within the Working Group.