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                                                      February 24, 2000

     JPNIC's Approach Regarding Multilingual Domain Names (Draft)

                                  Japan Network Information Center(JPNIC)

* Abstract

  - Currently, domain names are in ASCII form.  However, because of
    the increase in Internet users, a strong demand for registration
    of domain names using Japanese characters has come to exist, from
    users and as well as service providers.

  - JPNIC is studying the possibilities of creating Japanese domain names,
    and hopes to begin registration of these domain names within the
    year 2000.

  - As the domain name system is the infrastructure of the Internet,
    a stable operation with high credibility is required.  To keep
    the system stable, we must maintain the consistency of the current
    name space (the total set of all domain names) when it expands to include
    multilingual names, and it must not be corrupted by the introduction
    of incompatible systems.  In addition, protocols and data formats used
    in the system must be in accordance with consensus of the Internet
    community.  We must solve both technical and administrative
    issues.  JPNIC is proceeding with standardization of iDN, coordinating
    with other organizations that are similarly working towards iDN solutions.

* JPNIC's Approach Until Today

    In May 1999, JPNIC established iDN-TF, a task force to study the
multilingual domain name from a technological aspect.  This task force
tries to identify conditions that will allow introduction of
multilingual domain names.  In addition, it is attempting to implement
an experimental DNS system which will support multilingual domain
names.

    The findings of this task force have been/will be presented at Internet
Week (Yokohama), IWS2000 (Tsukuba), and APNG (Seoul).  These findings
form the basis of JPNIC's plan for introduction of service for registration of
Japanese domain names.

* Conditions for the Introduction of iDN

    The domain name system is the infrastructure of the Internet and a
stable and high-credibility operation is required.  To be successful, the
name space must be totally organized and coherent; incompatible systems
must not introduce segmentation among users, and confusion must not be
caused by duplication of domain names when multilingualized.  Protocol
and data format being used for domain names need consensus among the
Internet Community.

    Following are qualifications that JPNIC consider essential for the
introduction of multilingual domain names.

  - Technical / Administrative Conditions
    - ZLD(*) or other schema of multilingual domain name space, which are
      consistent in the whole Internet community, should be defined.

     (*)ZLD: Zero Level Domain; special TLD to identify multilingual
                 domain names.

    - DNS Protocol, especially character encoding system, is defined.
    - To obtain consensus and fix rules for mutilingualization of TLD
      in all gTLD and ccTLD communities.

  - Implementation
    - Implementation of a standard DNS server (ex. BIND) which meets the
      technical requirements.

  - Operation
    - Consideration for non-Japanese language users.  Reserving
      ASCII domain names corresponding to domain names in
      Japanese, taking into account non-Japanese language users.
    - Trademark disputes may happen frequently, and procedures for
      handling disputes must be considered in advance.

    To be able to start the actual operation, JPNIC will solve these
issues positively by coordinating with related organizations.

    It can be supposed that solutions to these issues need time to
be resolved, and JPNIC is studying implementation of trial and provisory
service in consideration of intergradations.

* Registration of Domain Names in Japanese Characters

    Currently JPNIC is discussing registration of domain names in
Japanese characters.

One of the many models under discussion is:

   - JPNIC will register domain names in Japanese.  These domain names
     correspond to currently registered domain names in ASCII characters.
     Registration shall be made on a first-come, first-served basis.

    As JPNIC anticipates disputes related to company names and trademarks,
we will start registration of Japanese domain names in accordance with
the dispute resolution procedure which will be in effect by the end of the
year 2000.

    In preparation for the registration, we will re-evaluate
technical issues; for example, characters in use and addition of SLD
needed, and also the rules of domain name registration.

* Related Activities

    JPNIC will collaborate with APNG, APTLD, W3C, IETF, ICANN, other
related organizations and engineers regarding introduction of domain names in
Japanese characters.  Following are the main activities:

    - Discovery of solutions to the above-mentioned issues
    - Evaluation of currently available technologies
    - Development and experimention in related technologies, and evaluation
      of the above
    - Encouragement of industry community participation and establishment
      of a forum on multilingual domain names
    - Encouragement of multilingual domain name support for client software.
            

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