A bill on information technology calls on Japan to build “the world’s most sophisticated computerized telecommunications network” so that IT powers the nation’s economic growth, government sources said Tuesday.

The bill will be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session to be convened Thursday after being endorsed today by the IT Strategy Council, an advisory panel to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.

The bill calls on the government to devise a program specifying goals related to predetermined stages of an envisioned IT revolution in Japan and deadlines for achieving the goals.

The bill also urges the government to help facilitate the spread of electronic commerce by scrapping or softening official regulations that are seen as hampering the spread of electronic commerce.

It encourages society to make the network into a “venue where spirited economic growth would become possible with the aid of citizens who would be made capable of taking advantage of the highly sophisticated telecommunications network with ease.”

The legislation also calls on the central and local governments to provide as many administrative services as possible to citizens via the Internet.

Under the bill, the government would set up a task force for turning Japan into a country equipped with a highly sophisticated IT infrastructure and manned by citizens capable of operating information devices linked to such an infrastructure.

The planned task force would consist of Cabinet ministers and private-sector experts in IT fields.

The legislation also calls on the government to train the populace in IT technologies, while nurturing the ranks of experts who are deeply knowledgeable about IT fields.

It also urges the government to take measures necessary to shield private information on individuals from piracy or theft via the Web.

Aid for PC classes

Sakaiya, head of the Economic Planning Agency, said Tuesday he is willing to include in a government package of economic stimulus measures a subsidy program to support adults learning how to use personal computers.

“The program will have strong economic effects as an increase in the number of people familiar with the Internet will boost its value,” Sakaiya said at a press conference.

“Unlike past economic measures, the program is consumer-oriented.”

Details of the program, which is expected to subsidize half the tuition fees for PC classes, are being considered at the government’s IT Strategy Council, he added.

The government will shortly devise a package of measures to put Japan’s economy on a sustainable recovery path.

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