|Messeage from Seiko Noda, |
Member of the House of Representatives
|Thursday 6th March 2003 : Palace Hotel Room "Wakakusa"|
I am sincerely happy about the holding of "Children, Mobile Phones and the Internet Experts' Meeting", co-organized by Internet Association Japan and Childnet International. Feeling quite sorry that I am not able to join this meeting due to parliamentary schedule, I would like to convey my message to you, as a Japanese who live in a society with widespread Information Technologies and as an adult who has significant responsibilities for children all over the world.
The development of the Internet has made us live in an era, which is totally different from the past. Honestly speaking, however, we have yet to be prepared to fully respond to the changes. One of the sad proofs of this is that in spite of the fact that almost all public schools in Japan have personal computers with Internet access, doors of PC rooms are locked against free use by students. For worries come first in the mind of teachers.
In reality, however, mobile phones, which are more easily available than PCs, are widespread in the lives of children and enable their access to the Internet. While children quickly understand that they have infinite possibilities with a device which is only the size of a palm, they hardly recognize that there are also infinite dangers in a lawless world of the Internet.
I am aware that multiple discussion took place in today's workshops, with participants from academics, industries and government agencies in Japan as well as overseas. In Japan, the Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and for Protecting Children is being reviewed with a view to amending it, reflecting the outcome of the Second World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Yokohama, 2001. One of the key issues in that work is child pornography on the Internet. Meanwhile, a bill to crack down on the dating websites, or "deai-kei site", is being prepared.
If children are to understand and enjoy the positive aspects of the Internet, adults must play a supporter's role, by enhancing the Internet literacy of children as well as establishing safety nets for them. Rules and systems must not only be developed, but also be understood and observed by children. As the locked PC rooms symbolize, adults just tend to keep children away from the Internet world. On the contrary, parents, teachers and adults in the communities must look ahead and be committed to take actions to guide children in an appropriate manner.
Curiosity takes children to a new world. Confirming that we, adults, are responsible for both joys and sufferings experienced by them, I wish to build a society in which Information Technologies will be truly used for people. Hoping all of you here share my feeling, I pledge to make efforts through parliamentary work.
I would like to close by wishing that fruitful discussion will continue tomorrow. Thank you very much for listening.
March 6, 2001