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2. Registered JP Domain Names Exceeds 100,000 Japanese Page

2.4 Domain Name Registration Rules and Democratic Governance

Hiroaki Takada (Chair of JP Domain Name Working Group from 1997 to present,)
Toyohashi University of Technology

About two and half years have passed since I accepted my current position as chair of the JP Domain Name Working Group. During this period, we changed the registration guidelines so that they would be supported by legal underpinning, and revised rules in certain areas, including those governing setup of the GR and ED SLDs. These changes, however, were rather minor and we have not ventured into the basic issue of what exactly constitutes the JP domain.

As chair of the Working Group, I am distressed to hear such differing opinions on this matter (at times they are utterly poles apart), which of course makes it extremely difficult to reach a consensus. We have provided domain-talk mailing list as an open discussion space devoted to the topic of JP domain names. When we created the GR domain, we conducted two surveys of domain-talk participants and drafted the rules based on the feedback we received. However, with regard to this type survey, there are a number of problems, such as: who has the right to respond; how can we prevent duplicate replies; how well do the respondents understand the issues and their progress; have the people who are most qualified to respond been reading domain-talk; and so forth. Because of these issues, we think that it will be difficult to conduct these kinds of surveys frequently.

As to the basic issues of how exactly a JP domain should work (for example, should buying and selling of domain names be allowed?), we need to hear from as many Internet users and administrators as conceivably possible. Because the Internet has become such an integral part of the social infrastructure (if future users are counted), the consensus of Internet users is nothing less than the consensus of the people. In response, some believe that if such is the case, why not let the rules governing domain names be decided in the Diet, the focal point for the consensus of the nation (or at least it should be). On the other hand, others will reasonably want to inquire as to just how many Members of Parliament have enough technical savvy to discuss something so highly specific as the rules governing domain names? That being said, it does not change that fact there are many highly specific items are discussed in the Diet, and decisions are reached on the basis of those discussions.

It may be seen as a bit extreme to say so, but when I try to look at the situation from that perspective, it occurs to me that domain-talk is in fact a new method of finding solutions, one that utilizes this new technology called the Internet and which by its very nature may unintentionally mask the possibility that a form of direct democracy will develop on the Internet. As issues are presented and solutions sought, people with special knowledge of and/or interest in the issues can discuss things directly on the Internet, and through this achieve results. On an international level, ICANN is working on the same type of issues in its related organizations.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the members who have been supporting the JP Domain Name Working Group, as well as the many people who have participated in domain-talk.

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