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3.6 Do Domain Name Servers Dream of Kanji? -Report by iDNS Task Force-

(iDNS Task Force)

(1) The Desire to Use the Internet in Japanese

It is now common to Net surf freely to the Web sites of any country, and to send and receive e-mail complete with attachment files hundred kilobytes in size. I feel that I am living in a completely different age, when I think of the old days when sending e-mail abroad was somewhat of a status symbol, and I chose very carefully the number of lines to include as my signature. It wouldn't have become this popular if Internet applications, especially WWW software, were not able to deal with the Japanese language.

The Internet population is still expected to grow in the future. It will have much more meaning for new users, who will begin to utilize the Internet from now, if they can use Japanese, their mother language.

This seems to be common in Asian countries. Simultaneously, in many places, a trend is growing that sees each language being made available not only for the contents of the Internet applications (WWW and e-mail software), but for addresses (URLs and E-Mail addresses) as well.

One example is iDNS, originally a project of APNG. There are also other proposals such as CNRP, RealName and iName. As end users increase in numbers and improve in ability, the demand for transcribing addresses in Japanese (in our case) seems to be increasing. Conversely, the ability to enter addresses in Japanese should increase the number of end users even more. For this reason, JPNIC has established the iDNS Task Force (iDNS-TF) to conduct empirical studies.

(2) What iDNS can bring to us

It may be possible to use URLs and e-mail addresses written in Japanese if iDNS can perform as expected.

For example, we may soon be able to write "webnetworkinformationcenterjapan" instead of "www.nic.ad.jp"; or "kawasakiwebnetworkinformationcenterjapan" instead of kawasaki@nic.ad.jp.

This may not make much of a difference for those who are already using the Internet. But for primary students, seniors, and others who will soon start using the Internet, Japanese addresses may be useful. In fact, a Taiwanese version of iDNS is now apparently in operation for Internet education in primary schools in Taiwan.

(3) What will change?

iDNS is designed to inquire of clients (especially, WWW browsers) about host names in URLs by 8-bit transparency, so that it will impact the current DNS system as little as possible.

Besides their regular DNS operations, DNS servers will solve host names by way of the following functions: Distinguish the coding system of each host name, such as EUC and JIS. Unicode host names and convert to UTF-5 format Acquire IP address using a UTF-5 host name This has been implemented by making modifications of Bind.

(4) What are the problems?

As you may notice, this system will probably have many technological problems. Therefore, iDNS-TF has built an actual iDNS environment for the purposes of verifying performance and identifying problems.

Also, as DNS in the Internet world is truly an infrastructure, it is necessary to ensure stability, reliability, and interoperability. Keeping the actual operation in mind, technological verification as well as coordination with various related organizations such as ICANN is also very important. For this reason, JPNIC believes that expanding name space and changing the structure of domain names should not be undertaken lightly.

Additionally, we recognize that actively discussed issues regarding domain names and intellectual property rights must be given full attention.

(5) The Objectives of iDNS-TF

Under the conditions outlined above, iDNS-TF focuses on the technological, operational, and administrational aspects of iDNS. Verification is proceeding, including the possibility of a solution using alternative measures. Co-existence with the current Internet environment is the minimum requirement for future developments of iDNS.

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