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Overview of JPNIC

March 6, 1999
Japan Network Information Center
Naomasa Maruyama

1. History and organization.

Japan Network Information Center, hereafter abbreviated as JPNIC, was founded as a Union of Internet service providers in Japan in April of 1993. On March 31, 1997, it was given permission by the government to register as a probono association. Although has mainly been working in JP domain name assignment and IP address assignment in Japan, it has added some new activities concerning education and census on the Japanese Internet as its objectives at the time of the registration.

Governmental structure of JPNIC is explained by its four organs: a general assembly, a board of trustees, a steering committee, and a secretariat. The general assembly, consisting of all members of JPNIC, is convened two or three times a year, and decides budgets, authorizes audit reports, elects trustees, and makes other important decisions. The board of trustees is empowered to administer the organization. Currently JPNIC has 17 trustees. Members of the steering committee are appointed by the board. Its role is to advise the board of trustees about various issues including JP domain name and IP address assignment policies. These policies are usually discussed, first, by working groups, which function as subsidiaries of the committee, and then discussed in the committee. During these discussions, they often try to hear opinion from the public by open mailing lists and face to face meetings that are not restricted to members. Decisions are made by JPNIC after this process, and the secretariat, which consists of employees, helps these activities, but does not commit to decisions. In this process, trustees, committee members and working group members are obliged to work for public welfare and good; not for their own interests. A certain amount of JPNIC's budget is spent for reimbursement of their philanthropic efforts. Under the policies made by the above-mentioned process, daily businesses, including JP domain name and IP address assignments, are carried out by the secretariat. It currently consists of about 30 employees.

The budget for the fiscal year 1998 is about 672 million yen (5.8 million U.S. dollars); 38% of which is from membership fees, 39% from assignment charges, and the remaining part is from the balance carried over from the previous fiscal year.

2. JP domains

JP domain names are categorized into two groups: one being functional type domains, and the other, geographical domains. Currently, we have 8 functional types, each of which is identified by a 2-letter code second level domain name. For example, NIC.AD.JP is assigned to JPNIC itself, and because it is working on network administration, is has "AD" as its second level domain name. The eight second levels are AD, CO, AC, GO, OR, NE, GR and ED.

Geographical domains have suitable codes indicating the location of the organization, as their second level.

JPNIC's assigning policy is roughly summarized as follows:

2.1. first come, first served,
2.2. one domain name per organization,
2.3. non-transferable,
2.4. local presence in Japan.

For the principles 2.2 and 2.3, analogous policy may not be found in the InterNIC's com domains. JPNIC thinks these principles play important roles in reducing possible conflicts of domain names, and prevent trading domain names, which JPNIC thinks adds little to the development of the Internet.

"ED" is the newest functional type, which we started assigning this past February. This second level is for pupils and JPNIC has slightly modified "first come first serve" policy for this second level. That is, we created a pre-assigned domain name list for all 42,000 schools in Japan, and asked each school whether it was satisfied with the domain name JPNIC pre-assigned. JPNIC set the reviewing period until the end of this March, in which each school may demand to change their pre-assigned domain name. This is a strategy JPNIC took this time to avoid scrambling of a domain name by several schools which have the same name in different regions.

Another important issue related to domain name business is the so-called "dispute policy". I have given a speech on this very issue at the APTLD meeting on March 1st. If you would like to see the text of this speech, please see

ftp://ftp.nic.ad.jp/jpnic/publication/presentations/aptld19990301.txt

3. IP addresses and AS numbers

JPNIC allocates blocks of IP addresses to member ISPs, and they assign the necessary amount of addresses to users. This procedure is now based on the Internet draft RFC 2050. As an explosion of RIPs has been is a critical problem on the Internet, JPNIC has been doing its best to promote a hierarchical assignment system of IP addresses mentioned by the RFC with the collaboration with APNIC. AS number assignment is also done with the collaboration with APNIC.

4. Recent topic

--- Privacy problem of whois database and zone transfer of DNS

For many years JPNIC has been suffering from the inappropriate use of its whois database. In the past, some people have retrieved the whole JPNIC whois database and used it for SPAM mail and SPAM FAXs, even though the copyright notice of the database prohibits this. JPNIC has a list of all domain names it registered on its ftp server, so it is rather easy to get the whole database by using each domain name as a key. We have kept this list open because we feel that the tranparency of our domain name registration business is important, but now we are thinking of stopping the publication of the domain name list, and at the same time, switching off the zone transfer permission of DNS servers. Although we would like to keep the domain name list open, we feel that these actions are unavoidable to protect the privacy of domain name registrants. We think this is an important problem to be discussed worldwide among domain name registries.

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