Japanese PM Proposes Spreading PC Use

TOKYO (06/12/2000) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, preparing for an election campaign that will begin Tuesday, proposed Monday a program under which more people will get access to PCs and the Internet.

Mori's proposal, made here during a debate between leaders of the country's seven major political parties, calls for PCs to be made available to all members of society.

"In order to create an affluent society, we need to carry through IT reforms," said Mori. "People from 8 through 80 should be able to use IT very freely. PCs need to permeate through society, including schools."

Mori's proposals come less than a week after he touched a computer keyboard for the first time in his life. Japan's prime minister was taught, by a first grade student, how to use the computer while visiting a school in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, last week.

"I thought I had to touch it," said Mori during the debate, when challenged on how he, as someone with no experience of using a computer, will be able to successfully chair the upcoming G8 summit, where IT is expected to be high on the agenda. The meeting of leaders of the world's seven major industrialized nations plus Russia is scheduled for late July and will be held in Japan.

"There are lots of older people who haven't touched one," he added. "We must consider what can be done to make personal computers available in schools and old age people's homes, where they can use them to communicate with grandchildren."

Other IT-related proposals in the platform of Mori's Liberal Democratic Party include the establishment by 2003 of an e-government program, intended to take major government functions online, and a review of the law to facilitate and accommodate the electronic age.

Campaigning begins nationwide Tuesday in preparation for the general election on June 25.

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