• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori experienced his first touch of a keyboard during a visit Tuesday to a junior high school in Chiba Prefecture to learn about education aided by information technology.

Mori participated in an art class at Utase Junior High School in the city of Chiba, where he was taught by a first-year student how to draw a picture with a computer and send the image to a larger monitor via radio transmission.

After the class, Mori confessed to students that he had never touched a computer. “To tell you the truth, I am not computer literate. I touched a keyboard for the first time today to send an e-mail message to you. I was typing for 30 minutes,” Mori said.

He also explained to the students that IT will be high on the agenda at the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa in July.

“There are countries where (IT) is progressing and where it is not,” he said. “Some countries will enjoy flourishing industry and convenience, but others, lagging behind in this area, will be left out. How to help those countries will be a major discussion topic at the summit.”

Mori had his snapshot taken with the students and promised to try to e-mail them.

The prime minister then visited a nearby Fujitsu Ltd. laboratory, where he shopped online via mobile phone and worked equipment used to analyze genes.

Mori plans to create a special quota for IT projects in the fiscal 2001 budget, as he believes IT should be a major vehicle in Japan’s ongoing structural reform efforts, according to government officials.

He has also announced a plan to assemble a “comprehensive aid package” to help developing countries deal with advancing IT, when he hosts the July 21-23 G8 summit.