Release of test version of character information platform for government offices
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has released character fonts and a character information list in test versions. Both have been developed in cooperation with related ministries and are available to national and local government offices for transactions and services.
Japanese names consist of a wide variety of kanji characters. Due to the need to write these names correctly, national and local government offices have been making efforts to handle them properly in their information systems, such as creating custom characters to use non-standard kanji on computers. However, the cost of creating and maintaining custom characters in information systems has become a major concern for government offices.
METI set up the “Character Information Platform Promotion Committee” by bringing together officials from related ministries, including the Cabinet Secretariat (IT Policy Office), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Justice, as well as experts from the private sector. The Committee extensively discussed the vision of the future character platform and developed a roadmap showing the steps needed.
The Committee also defined the fonts for a set of kanji used for the names (58,713 characters), which includes unified characters for family registers, basic resident registers and organized character information, such as the number of strokes. Through this platform, government offices can refer to custom characters created by other offices, which were in the past not available across different municipalities or different systems.
METI plans to examine and identify technical and operational problems based on the released test platform and then put it to practical use around October this year. At the same time, METI will prepare a user’s guide for the character information platform to ensure that government offices can appropriately employ it. The guide will indicate, for example, the available character range (number of characters) according to the purpose of the transactions.
Discussions from policy perspectives (institutional and other issues) will be held among related ministries under the initiative of the Cabinet Secretariat (IT Policy Office) in accordance with “The New Strategy in Information and Communications Technology (IT): Roadmaps” (issued on June 22, 2010, by the Strategic Headquarters for the Promotion of an Advanced Information and Telecommunications Network Society). The Information-Technology Promotion Agency, Japan (IPA) will undertake the platform’s practical operations, such as the provision of characters and the establishment of implementation rules. Further information on this topic, along with the fonts and the character information list, is available at IPA’s website (http://www.ipa.go.jp).
This initiative will be promoted in harmony with international standards.
May 18, 2011
Division in Charge
IT Project Office, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau