National

Japan placed 10th in global ranking for information and communication technology, up one spot from 2016

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

Japan was placed 10th in a global ranking that assesses nations on their level of development in information and communication technology, moving up one spot from last year, according to an annual United Nations report.

The survey, published Wednesday by the U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union, placed Iceland at the top of a list of 176 countries and regions, followed by South Korea, Switzerland, Denmark and Britain.

South Korea had held the top spot in 2016, but ceded its lead because the percentage of households with computers and the nation’s “international internet bandwidth per internet user,” a measure of average international data usage, was lower than that of Iceland, the survey said.

Japan’s government planning, investment in research and development, and sophisticated consumers have contributed to its rapid adaptation of the latest ICT, the survey said. It also noted Japan’s high level of mobile communications access, with 96 percent of households owning a mobile phone in 2015.

“Japan is an ICT leader, not only in terms of developing, piloting and adopting the latest technologies but also as an active participant in international standards-setting bodies,” the survey said.

Japan beat Iceland for cellphone subscriptions and mobile broadband usage, but scored lower on the percentage of households with computers and fixed broadband subscriptions.

The ranking included France in 15th place, the United States in 16th place and Singapore in 18th position. China ranked at No. 80 despite rapid growth in its ICT sector, but the survey said the country “is in a good position” to take advantage of the recent rise of “internet of things” technologies — a concept under which various everyday items are connected to the internet.

Seven of the top 10 countries are within the EU, including the Netherlands (No. 7), Norway (No. 8) and Luxembourg (No. 9).

Japan ranked third in the Asia Pacific region, behind South Korea and Hong Kong and followed by New Zealand and Australia. Despite the region’s growing potential to stand as the leader of the digital economy, there are significant gaps between leading ICT countries and those lagging behind, the survey said.

The survey also showed that a gender gap in internet usage is particularly serious in the least-developed countries, as only 1 in 7 women were using the internet compared with 1 in 5 men. The gap was relatively small in developed economies, where more than 80 percent of the population is estimated to be online.

Africa remains the only region where the gender gap is still widening, although internet access rates in the region have grown. This suggests the increase was predominantly driven by men, the survey said.

The survey said next-generation ICTs, such as the internet of things, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence will enable people to find new opportunities in business, government and society, claiming that “countries will need to create conditions supportive to the deployment of next-generation network and service infrastructures” to benefit current advances.

The survey, launched in 2009, measures and compares levels of development in ICT based on three indices — access, usage and skills — and 11 indicators, including fixed and mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, the percentage of individuals using the internet via computers or mobile devices, and the enrollment ratio for secondary and tertiary education.

The full report can be found at jtim.es/WXhb30gC690.