July 23, 2018
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) conducted the “FY2017 Infrastructure Development Program Concerning Data-driven Society in Japan (Survey on Technology and Institutes Related to Distributed System)” to uncover core technologies and legal systems that are required for the public implementation of distributed systems, (e.g., blockchain technologies) and compiled the survey results into a report.
Distributed systems (e.g., blockchain technologies), are promising technologies expected to be applied to a wide variety of fields including non-financial sectors. Still, to advance the implementation of these systems publicly, it is considered necessary for Japan to further understand the systems and discussion will be held for that purpose. In this context, through this survey, METI took the following three steps to facilitate the public implementation of these systems.
- Extract use cases in which distributed systems are utilized and evaluate the cases;
- Study legal issues, (e.g., clarify legal interpretation and ideal approaches to relaxation of regulations and introduction of new legal systems)
- Organize core technologies required to establish distributed systems.
Note: For details of blockchain technologies, see the FY2015 survey report below.
2. Outline of the survey report
(1) Extracting use cases in which distributed systems are utilized and evaluating the cases
In this process, METI chose the following three use cases as targets for system evaluations, aiming to show case examples of evaluation methods, which may be vary greatly depending on use cases, and promote their utilization. Following this, METI evaluated the cases according to the Evaluation Forms for Blockchain-based Systems ver. 1.0, which METI formulated in FY2016.
- Medical and healthcare areas: Clinical trial data management platform
- Logistics, supply chains and mobility areas: EV battery life-cycle management platform
- Smart property: Smart token platform
(2) Study legal issues (e.g., clarify legal interpretation and ideal approaches to relaxation of regulations and introduction of new legal systems)
In addition to the medical and healthcare, and logistics, supply chains and mobility areas, METI focused on cross-sectoral themes and held meetings of lawyers, academic experts and representatives of private associations involved in blockchain technologies and private companies to discuss the following: clarification of legal interpretation related to public implementation of distributed systems, ideal approaches to relaxation of regulations and introduction of new legal systems, and recommended practical efforts.At these meetings, participants discussed the following points of contention.
[i] Cross-sectoral themes
- Legality of issuing electronic records using blockchain technologies
- Effectiveness of smart contracts;
- Effectiveness of equating transfer of tokens to transfer of rights; etc.
[ii] Medical and healthcare areas
- Legitimacy of issuing clinical trial documents;
- Scalability in sharing medical information among stakeholders through blockchain technologies; etc.
[iii] Logistics, supply chains and mobility areas
- Standardization of measurement methods for remaining EV battery life;
- Positioning and obligations of prosumers in power interchanges; etc.
(3) Organizing core technologies required to establish distributed systems
METI recognizes that there are many challenges in commercialization of distribution systems (e.g., blockchain technologies), due to the differences in approaches that are taken in these systems from those of conventional systems based on trustworthy centralized databases. METI prioritized these challenges and relevant core technologies to create a plan for overcoming them.
- Report on the Survey on Technology and Institutes Related to Distributed System (outline)(PDF:3,203KB)
- Report on the Survey on Technology and Institutes Related to Distributed System (full text, in Japanese)(PDF:4,260KB)
Division in Charge
Information Economy Division, Commerce and Information Policy Bureau