Our friends in Japan hosted us in Tokyo last week for our fifth Internet Economy Dialogue. We enjoyed a productive week-long exchange and reaffirmed our mutual commitment to various issues, including the support of a global, interconnected, free, and open Internet rooted in multistakeholder governance.
On the drive into Tokyo from the airport, I was visually struck by the immensity of the city, its order and structure. I sensed immediately that the place is well governed and in some ways, it resembles a city from the future with clean, sharp angles where form follows function.
What becomes evident within only a short time there is that beneath the surface of modernity, tradition, and cultural values are strong and binding on the people you meet. They are warm and kind, diligent and serious, and every meeting starts on time.
I was also struck by the common sense of purpose. This is a country that only three years ago experienced a devastating earthquake and that has for some number of years struggled with economic stagnation. Through varied challenges, the Japanese have demonstrated their resolve in recovery and commitment to a new strategy for economic growth. At the heart of that strategy is the investment in, as well as the use of, information and communications technologies as both a key sector in itself and a platform for meeting challenges elsewhere.
We came to Tokyo to learn more about the Japanese Information Communication Technology (ICT) strategy and share some of our best practices. Together, we affirmed our commitment to ensuring that the global system for communications remains a platform for innovation, competition, and collaboration, as well as economic and social development.
American and Japanese private sector leaders presented us with a joint statement in favor of the multistakeholder system of Internet governance, requesting continued collaboration to promote the free flow of data across borders, the continued development of cloud computing, and the pursuit of policies that do not place an undue burden on firms. The private sector’s collaboration set a solid foundation for the discussion between our governments and helped us reach a strong joint statement on various issues that we released at the end of the week.
This is a critical year for the future of Internet governance, for the development of ICT and its use in our two countries. We could not ask for a better ally and friend. I was once told that in a fight, it is better to have one tiger on your side than ten thousand kittens. Japan is our tiger and hopefully it sees the United States as in a similar way.
About the Author: Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB).