Internet Week Talk – The Japanese Net Community – an Outside View

At the ISP level, Japan is the most cooperative and communicative culture in the world. For example, a research study of BGP routing policy found all countries except Japan had 60-90% of ASs having some default routing. Japan had 36%. We believe this is due to coordination between Japanese ISPs and cooperation in sharing of technique.

JaNOG is a significant forum and a factor in coordination. Note that JaNOG meetings are as big, and sometimes bigger, as NANOG, the North American meeting.

I will never forget a JaNOG talk on hand tools, the tools we use when dealing with equipment in racks. Simple basic things such as powered screwdrivers, cable connectors, etc. This never happens outside of Japan, network operators in Europe and the United States are too self-important. Here, we share the techniques of our day-to-day lives. This attitude creates a harmony and consistency across the Japanese networking culture.

It is when we do not consult and coordinate openly that things go from amazingly good to varying shades of bad.

One example is the NTT NGN deployment, which was meant to encourage IPv6 deployment and to move the Internet forward technically. Unfortunately, though it was intended with very positive motives, it was done with insufficient technical consultation. It essentially made the *customer* IPv6 experience so bad, resulting in delays of one second, that Google, FaceBook, etc. have blacklisted Japan. This is unusually embarrassing as Japan was supposed to be a global leader in IPv6 deployment.

When it comes to coordination and cooperation above the engineering level, Japan is often a very negative point on the graph. When it comes to coordination with the government, it looks as if everything goes into a back room which accentuates all the disadvantages of the stereotyped Japanese isolation.

We have laws punishing Internet providers who host pornography which I am embarrassed to see as I walk down Book Street in Jimbocho. And it is right in front of children on the street. And it is right in front of me, and I am offended. At least on the Internet it can be avoided, since you have to hunt for it.

We now may put people in prison for downloading music. No other country in the world has such an extreme law. And who is being served by this? A back room deal between the media industry and the government with no public or Internet industry consultation.

The term “Internet Governance” is very dangerous. Our use of language constrains our thoughts. The Internet exploded and thrives because it is about cooperation and coordination, not hierarchy and control. And nowhere is this stronger than in the Japanese Internet technical community.

And we say that the Internet Wall of China is bad? We should look at ourselves first.

So there is the really good and the pretty bad. And of course it is not all black or white but has many colors in between. This leaves us with work to do. How do we create and maintain a more open dialog in the Japanese Internet culture

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