The home affairs minister and representatives of a nationwide association of prefectural governors met Wednesday in Tokyo to exchange views on information security.

It is the first time for governors and Toranosuke Katayama, minister of public management, home affairs, posts and telecommunications, to discuss the protection of personal information in an envisioned plan to improve the efficiency of local governments through more utilization of information technology.

Katayama said he is hopeful that IT will speed up administrative procedures of local governments and that the nationwide resident registry network will serve as a foundation.

He urged the participants to explain the registry network to prefectural residents and win their support, amid concerns that the network could lead to violations of privacy and state surveillance of individuals.

The network, launched Aug. 5, is designed to streamline the use and provision of government services and allows different levels of government to access citizens’ personal data. The system encodes the basic personal data in 11-digit individual numbers.

The central government is aiming to create “electronic local governments” — online systems through which various public services are provided — during fiscal 2003 beginning next April, in which IT security of local government levels would be upgraded.

Seven governors, including Taku Kajiwara of Gifu, who heads a special committee within the National Governors’ Association on promoting IT, attended the meeting.

About 20 other local officials, including vice governors, also participated.

The six other prefectures represented in the meeting are Hokkaido, Iwate, Akita, Wakayama, Hyogo and Tottori.

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