Joint Statement by the Prime Ministers of Japan and the United Kingdom:
working together as leading e-nations


The universal application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is critical to bringing about increased global prosperity in the 21st century. ICT enriches the way we live and work. It empowers individuals and organisations, and stimulates the growth of new business and employment opportunities. It contributes to better public services for all our citizens and increases productivity and opportunity in businesses.

We, the Prime Ministers of Japan and the United Kingdom, two of the most advanced knowledge-based economies in the world, reaffirm our commitment to work together in the research, development and adoption of these new technologies. We also commit ourselves to the facilitation and promotion of e-commerce and e-government. We reaffirm our goal of achieving universal access for all our citizens by the year 2005. Through our UK online, e-Europe and e-Japan Strategies we will enhance the efforts to tackle the barriers which discourage our citizens from getting on line and prevent our enterprises and government agencies from making the best use of ICT for their economic and social activities.

Furthermore, our two countries will also work together to increase digital opportunities worldwide, responding in particular to the needs of developing countries.

Our ICT industries have successfully created the necessary infrastructure to deliver services such as broadband Internet access and the new generation of mobile communications which meet the needs and expectations of our citizens. However, as technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace and new ICT products and services are developed, we must ensure that our regulatory policy continues to be pro-competitive and fully responsive to the needs of our ICT industry, business users and consumers. We will continue to learn much from each other's experience and to share our policy thinking in order to refine our national strategies and regulatory frameworks.

We have identified the following specific areas where Japan and the United Kingdom will cooperate:

1. Realising a ubiquitous network society

The rapid pace of technological development means our two countries are getting closer to realising the vision of a ubiquitous network society where every citizen can access information networks in any place and at any time.

Cooperation between the United Kingdom and Japan in research, development and the adoption of the most advanced technologies will help us to put in place the basic infrastructure necessary for the creation of these ubiquitous networks.

The further development of Internet and communications technologies will create new opportunities affecting every aspect of our daily life, e-business and e-government. In particular the successful promotion of third generation (3G) mobile services and the development of the next stages of mobile communication systems are two important challenges we now face. Furthermore, the widespread transition to digital broadcasting systems will enable households to access easily these new applications and services. We believe that cooperation amongst our world-leading ICT industries and research institutions will help us to achieve these aims.

We also recognise the continuing need to encourage the take-up of seamless broadband services over both fixed and wireless networks, and to stimulate the distribution of digital content. We will continue to do this through our respective national programmes, UK online and e-Japan Strategies, and through regional initiatives such as the e-Europe broadband strategy, the Asia Broadband Program, and the Asia IT Initiatives.

2. Promoting the development of e-commerce

ICT is already transforming businesses by making them more efficient, productive and competitive. We need now to focus our support and assistance for businesses on integrating ICT fully into their business processes. By doing this we will increase their potential for engaging in e-commerce and realising new market opportunities. We aim therefore to build on the aims and aspirations of the e-commerce joint announcement which our governments issued in 2001, focussing in particular on the enhancement of consumer trust and security, the promotion of personal computers (PCs) as a key entry point into broadband, supporting the harmonisation of e-commerce rules, and establishing appropriate levels of IT skills standards.

It is vital that e-commerce is fully integrated into all aspects of international trade in order to help raise global prosperity and well-being. Japan and the United Kingdom - including where appropriate through the European Union - will therefore work together in the appropriate international fora to develop multilateral rules concerning e-commerce that will underpin international trade.

3. Use of ICT in government and education

As world leaders in the development of e-government, it is important that we continue to share our policy thinking and experience in delivering online services which our citizens and businesses need and expect.

E-learning is another important area for cooperation. To achieve the maximum benefit from e-learning, we need in particular to work together to develop the e-learning environment, for example by helping to secure international agreement of the technical standards which will enable the creation, sharing and sustainability of content to support the learning process.

4. Building digital opportunities

We believe that ICT has the potential to help developing countries overcome the economic challenges facing them and to improve the lives of their most deprived citizens. We reaffirm our commitment to work together with all stakeholders and relevant international organisations to meet the challenges that developing countries face so that they can seize the digital opportunities.

We believe that the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will have an important role in this regard and we aim to play our part in achieving a successful and productive summit outcome.

Junichiro Koizumi
Prime Minister of Japan
Tony Blair
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Hakone, 19 July 2003

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