• The Associated Press

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Japan will start research on new network technology to replace the Internet to tackle growing quality and security problems, a government official said Tuesday.

U.S. and European researchers have already started research to rebuild the underlying architecture of the Internet, a move that could mean replacing networking equipment and rewriting software on computers.

Yoshihiro Onishi, an assistant director at the communications ministry, said Japan believes it is crucial to follow suit to stay competitive. Post-Internet network technology is expected to become imperative by 2020, he said.

“The Internet is reaching its limit,” he said. “We feel this research for the technology is definitely needed.”

The ministry is now working to set up a research organization by fall 2008.

It will request a budget for the fiscal year starting next April 1, although the amount of money has yet to be decided.

Cooperation with other nations, including the U.S., will be an option, Onishi said.

Among the concerns researchers may address is the need to set up an ecological network that consumes low levels of energy.

With the arrival of hackers and spammers, and the proliferation of laptops and other mobile devices, scientists are starting to believe a totally new network is needed.

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