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To help the Japanese catch up with the wave of globalization in the realm of the Internet, a group of foreign-affiliated firms on Thursday urged the government to provide Net users with more financial incentives to build an information-oriented society.

Pointing out Japan’s backwardness in spreading the Internet among the public, the Foreign Information Industry’s Forum, consisting of 18 foreign-affiliated companies, called for a raise in the utility value of the Internet and a reduction in the necessary costs for its use.

Specifically, the forum called for flat-rates for Internet lines, tax deductions for personal expenses on information technology and a temporary exemption of the consumption tax imposed on electric commerce. “We believe none of these proposals are outrageous, but a prerequisite for Japan to take a step forward from its current state as a backward nation in terms of information (technology),” said Masaru Murai, chairman of the forum and executive adviser of Compaq Computer K.K. Speaking at a Tokyo press conference, Murai and other forum members said the Internet should be used in more fields such as education and business.

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