Sunday, February 3, 2013

Japanese Government Launched Open Data Idea Box

It is often said that the Japanese government's disclosure, especially digital disclosure, is behind the international trend. Although there is a disclosure rule ("Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs") whereby people can request hard copy of the data, there is no Electronic Freedom of Information Act in Japan. Facing this situation, the Japanese government is now starting to try hard to catch up with other progressive countries in this field.

Recently, the Japanese government opened up a website called "Open Data Idea Box." This is a site where Japanese citizens may discuss openly what information is necessary to be disclosed online, what the rules of disclosure should be, and so on. The Japanese government is trying to promote the usage of the data the government owns by the business and thereby vitalizing our economy. And for that purpose, the Japanese government became aware of the necessity to communicate with Japanese citizens, especially techie people, online.

Although it was launched quite recently (February 1st), some ideas have already been posted. For example, one person proposed that the discussion of the Diet (Japanese legislature) should be provided to the citizens in "machine-readable format." The poster suggested that this would promote App developers to develop new Apps on political discussion which will let Japanese people know more deeply about what bill is now being discussed and who is arguing what. Another idea is to disclose the time and the place of the demonstration, when a group leader applies to the police station for the demonstration. That would help navigation Apps enhance the quality of navigating routes, such as avoiding the place of the demonstration at the time the demonstration is conducted.
It is, of course, just a "marketplace of ideas" with open access to government owned documents and the government is not bound by the majority opinion (or the unanimous opinion) on the Open Data Idea Box. But at least the government stated that it intends to promote the policy of "open data" and it will use the opinions in the Idea Box site as a reference. Although some of you may see it as too opportunistic, I believe that the launch of Open Data Idea Box is a kind of proof that the Japanese government is more aware of the necessity for open access to information held by the government through the Internet. I hope that this trend will continue and more and more information from the government will be available via the Internet.

DISCLAIMER: "IT Law issues in Japan" only provides general information about Japanese information technology law and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. You should first obtain the advice of professional legal counsel who is qualified in Japan before acting or refraining from acting based on this blog.

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