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History of Internet Resources Management in Japan

Focusing on Domain Name and IP Address

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Chapter2 Resource management before JNIC and JPNIC


Many of the important protocols that form the basis of the Internet, including TCP/IP[15] and DNS were developed in ARPANET, the predecessor to the Internet, and first became operational in the 1980s. The specifications of these protocols were published as Requests for Comments (RFCs) and made open and free for use by anyone. This led to their adoption in networks other than ARPANET and for interconnection among networks[16].

As a result, it became imperative to smoothly manage and operate the common resources, including domain names and IP addresses, based on these protocols[17]. In this section, we look back at the status of resource management in Japan in the period from the 1980s to the beginning of 1990s, and explain the circumstances between the launch of JNIC in December 1991[18] and the formal establishment of JPNIC in April 1993[19].

How domain name management started

In the beginning, names were managed by each network

The names (more accurately, host names) specifying each connected device were managed independently by each respective network from the 1970s to the 1980s. Each network also operated a management organization called a Network Information Center (NIC), for example SRI-NIC[20] in ARPANET and BITNIC[21] in BITNET (one of the wide area networks that existed from the 1980s to the beginning of the 1990s), and each NIC managed a master ledger (host table) individually. This system ensured the uniqueness of all names within each network.

Development of DNS and the beginning of domain names

As described in Chapter 1, the DNS was developed in 1983 and ARPANET’s name management practice shifted from a simple list of host names to the hierarchical management of domain names[22]. After that, the use of TCP/IP also became prevalent in networks other than ARPANET. And when the email system[24] using the DNS MX record[23] became popular, domain names and DNS-based management also began to be used in networks other than ARPANET[25].

In the United States, seven top level domains (TLDs) - .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net, .org and .arpa (originally used as the transitional domain for ARPANET hosts) - were deployed[26] [27], and uniform name management across networks started.

.jp becomes the TLD for Japan

When ARPANET introduced domain names, it anticipated that countries other than the United States would be connected. RFC 920, issued in 1984, clearly states that a top-level domain for a country is an “English two letter code (alpha-2) identifying a country according to the ISO Standard for 'Codes for the Representation of Names of Countries'"[26].

In addition to alpha-2, the ISO standard ISO3166-1 specifies alpha-3 (three letters) and numeric (3 digit numeric figures) country codes. However, since some three-letter TLDs were already in use for the U.S. TLDs (as described above), it was decided to use alpha-2, two-letter identifiers for countries.

One reason for selecting ISO 3166-1 as the basis for the country codes was to avoid the risk that a registry would be drawn into international disputes over the definition of a country or the appropriateness of a TLD string. This concept still lives on today in the policy of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)[28], which has noted that “IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country. Instead, we employ a neutral standard maintained by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency.”[29]

So, following this practice, .jp was designated as the TLD indicating Japan.

Name management in Japan

In the Japanese network of the 1980s, basically the same form of name management was conducted as in the U.S. For instance, BITNETJP coordinated the management of node names[30] with BITNET in the U.S., and HEPnet-J did the same with respect to the HEPnet (a wide area network constructed to promote research in high-energy physics)in the U.S.

Similarly, a group called junet-admin[31] at that time voluntarily took charge of name management within JUNET[32], itself a volunteer-based experimental network.

Hierarchical name management in JUNET

A significant feature of name management in Japan was that hierarchical name management using domain names was realized before deployment of DNS, even though UUCP[33] not TCP/IP was used as the base in JUNET at that time. Thanks to mailconf[34] developed in 1985, email addresses with a domain name such as jun@cc.titech.junet[35][36] were already usable then.

Therefore, what junet-admin did at the time was simply to manage the uniqueness of the second level domain names (titech in this case), which meant that organizations and domain names were managed on a one-to-one basis in JUNET. This later resulted in a smooth shift from “<organization name>.junet” to “<organization name>.<xx>.jp”.

Delegation of .jp to Jun Murai and introduction of organizational type domains

When TCP/IP started to be used in the 1980s, Jon Postel of the University of South California, Information Sciences Institute (ISI) managed in a centralized manner the numbers, such as IP addresses, and names to be assigned commonly among networks[37].

Management of .jp was delegated to Jun Murai by Postel in 1986[38]. Then in 1988, the delegation to Murai and the shift to .jp was endorsed[39] by the major academic networks of Japan at that time (BITNETJP, HEPnet-J, JUNET). In addition, five attributes, AC, AD, CO, GO and OR, according to the type of organization, were introduced in the JP domain[40].

As a background to the deployment of the organizational types, there was a rule called the Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). The AUP created certain usage restrictions, prohibiting use for reasons other than research or research support in each academic network that constituted the Internet at that time[41]. Therefore, it was necessary to ensure fine control on access to certain networks, including the communication path based on the organizational types of the sender and the receiver. The network operators attempted to use domain name attributes for this particular control[42].

After JUNET shifted to .jp in 1989[43], regular operation of JP domain names started.

Establishment of JNIC and handover of name management

Full-scale operation of JP domain names started in this way, but as yet there was no organization dedicated to registering and managing JP domain names. Consequently, junet-admin, which was already managing organizations and domain names on a one-to-one basis, temporarily took charge of the assignment task of JP domain names[44].

After that, it became a common perception shared among networks that there needed to be an organization which each network in Japan could commonly use and which did not belong to any particular network with a view to managing JP domain names in a fair manner[45]. As a result of consultations at the Japan Committee for Research Networks (JCRN), formed by representatives of networks and academic societies at that time[46], a series of coordinated activities was carried out on resource management methods in the Japanese network. Finally the Japan Network Information Center (JNIC) was established as the NIC for Japan in December 1991[18].

At the time of its launch, JNIC took over management of JP domain names from junet-admin, which had held temporary charge of the management until then[46].

Start of DNS operation and its handover

Operation of the authoritative DNS server for the management of JP domain names, which led to the present JP DNS server, also started in 1989[47]. At the beginning of operations, a group called “bind-admin” formed by DNS administrators of the WIDE Project, TISN and JAIN took a leadership role in the management. After JNIC was established, JNIC took over the management[48].

Start of IP address management

Direct assignment by Postel

As described previously, Jon Postel uniformly managed the numbers that had to be assigned commonly among networks, including IP addresses when TCP/IP came into use in the 1980s. The result of assignments made by Postel was compiled into a document by The NIC (an organization responsible for assigning IP addresses and domain names on the Internet at that time), and the document was made available through RFCs and the WHOIS service operated by The NIC[37].

In Japan, IP addresses[49] assigned to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) in 1986 and IP addresses[50] assigned to the University of Tokyo in 1987 were distributed directly by Postel. Those addresses were assigned to the person in charge within each organization.

Start of bulk assignment experiment

From the beginning, Postel, Murai and Daniel Karrenberg – who participated in starting the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC)[52] - which later became the RIR for the European region[51] - were keenly aware of the need to divide labor by establishing country- and region-specific NICs, taking into account the potential increase in workload in the future and need to support the languages unique to each region[44].

Murai decided to promote a far-sighted experiment in bulk assignment of IP addresses (assignment in bulk for each country or region) following consultation with Postel and Karrenberg.

As a result, Murai received an assignment of IP address blocks “for Japan:” one Class A address, 254 Class B addresses, and 512 Class C addresses from Postel in 1989[53]. Murai organized a system where The Network Address Coordination Committee (Coordination Committee), with Eichi Wada (then the professor of the University of Tokyo) as the chair, managed these IP address blocks and facilitated IP address assignment in Japan[54].

From Network Address Coordination Committee to JNIC

Though IP address assignment was the job of the Coordination Committee, it was a manual and voluntary task carried out by busy university teachers, and delays in IP address assignment (due to the rapid increase in the workload) became a problem.

To solve this problem, it was decided that JNIC would take over IP address assignment work from the Coordination Committee. The handover was completed in June 1992[45]. As described previously, JNIC had already taken over the registration operation of JP domain names from junet-admin. Therefore, JNIC as the NIC for Japan started to take charge of both IP address assignment and JP domain name registration in Japan then.

With regard to reverse DNS, a reverse DNS zone for IP addresses managed by JPNIC was delegated by InterNIC in 1993 after JPNIC was established[55].


JNIC ensured fairness of operation through a system where members selected from each network in Japan took charge of its operation[45]. This concept of management framework was subsequently taken up by JPNIC.

JNIC did not have a definite financial base at that time, and it was operated as a subsidiary organization of JCRN, a federation of academic networks. However, establishment of a financial base to secure staff, networks and servers for the management operation became imperative, and at the same time it became necessary to construct a framework taking into account handling of non-academic networks, as commercial networks were soon to emerge [56].

As a result of deliberations among networks on a new organizational framework, it was concluded that a new organization should be established, with participating networks as members, to take on and step up the operations[57] [58]. Consequently “Japan Network Information Center” was formally reorganized as voluntary organization in April 1993[19] [57]. At that time, the name of the organization was changed from the former JNIC to JPNIC, reflecting the two-letter country code for Japan and taking into account the potential formation of NICs in other countries starting with “J”[57][58][59].

Column: Network groups involved in establishment of JNIC/JPNIC

The following are the network groups of Japan involved in establishing JNIC/JPNIC. At first, networks were constructed using different communication protocols, but they later shifted to a scheme with consideration for interconnection over TCP/IP.


Abbreviation of Because It's Time Network (in Japan). It provided services for email, chatting, mailing lists and file transfer by connecting BITNET started in 1981 in the U.S. and the mainframe at Tokyo University of Science (TUS) with dedicated lines.

This network was based on an IBM mainframe as well as BITNET, and various communication protocols developed by IBM were used. In 1992 TUS started JOIN (Japan Organized Inter Network) based on TCP/IP, and BITNETJP began transition to the JOIN network.


Abbreviation of High-Energy Physics Network Japan. It started as a network for data transfer at high speed among universities and research institutes carrying out high-energy experiments. Originally, it was an X.25 packet switching network, which later included dedicated lines in some parts of the network. From the beginning, HEPnet-J and HEPnet were connected by X.25 packet switching network. At the start of operations, a protocol called DECnet – developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) – was the mainstream. Then, DECnet Phase V, developed in 1987, introduced support for TCP/IP, which became dominant in the 1990s.


Abbreviation of Japan Academic Inter-university Network. JAIN was an experimental network connecting universities based on TCP/IP. It was constructed on the X.25[60] packet switching network.


Abbreviation of Japan/Japanese University NETwork. JUNET is the network for research based on UUCP, started by connecting the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Keio University via telephone lines.


Abbreviation of Science Information NETwork. Operation of SINET began in 1992 by National Center of Science Information System (presently the National Institute of Informatics). It was constructed over TCP/IP on an ATM switching network. Its fourth generation network, SINET4, is in operation as of 2015.


Abbreviation of Todai International Science Network. TISN started operation by connecting the University of Tokyo and the University of Hawaii via TCP/IP. It is an international network joined by national and public research institutes, government affiliated corporations and high public profile civil research institutes for the purpose of supporting scientific technological research.

WIDE Project(1988〜)

Abbreviation of Widely Integrated Distributed Environment. It is an academic-industry cooperative research project on wide-area distributed computing environments.

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[15] J. Postel (ed.), "Internet Protocol - DARPA Internet Program Protocol Specification", RFC 791, USC/Information Sciences Institute, September 1981.

[16] R. Zakon, "Hobbes' Internet Timeline", RFC 2235, The MITRE Corporation, November 1997

[17] Introducing IANA

[18]“From JNIC to JPNIC 10 year history – inauguration of JNIC”

[19] Masaki Hirabaru, “JPNIC Report 2,” UNIX MAGAZINE September 1993 issue

[20] M.D. Kudlick, "Host names on-line", RFC 608, SRI-ARC, January 1974

[21] CREN | CREN History and Future

[22] J. Postel, "Domain Name System Implementation Schedule -Revised", RFC 921, October 1984

[23] A record that is derived from Mail eXchange and specifies email delivery destination hosts.

[24] P. Mockapetris, "Domain System Changes and Observations", RFC 973, January 1986

[25] J.S. Quarterman, "The Matrix", pp.111, Digital Press, 1990

[26] J. Postel, J.K. Reynolds, "Domain Requirements", RFC 920, October 1984

[27] RFC 920 has no description of “.net”, and according to the discussion of the namedroppers mailing list held afterwards, this was added before formal deployment. Reference: E. (Jake) Feinler, "HOST TABLES, TOP LEVEL DOMAIN NAMES AND THE ORIGIN OF DOT COM," March 2010

[28] https://www.nic.ad.jp/ja/tech/glos-ij.html#02-IANA

[29] IANA — Qualifying top-level domain strings "Eligible countries for country-code TLDs"

[30] Each element that configures a network including computers and routers is called a node, and the name assigned to each node is the node name.

[31] https://www.nic.ad.jp/ja/tech/glos-ij.html#02-JUNET

[32] JUNET User's guide preparation committee, “JUNET User's Guide (1st edition),” pp.118, February 1988

[33] A protocol that is derived from Unix-to-Unix CoPy and used to transfer files or conduct commands remotely between Unixes or systems complying with it. It supported dial up connections using public lines from the beginning of development, and it was used widely by networks including USENET in the U.S., EUnet in Europe and JUNET in Japan in the 1980s.

[34] Software for generating a configuration file (sendmail.cf) from a set of email delivery rules, which was used by JUNET as a standard at that time.

[35] Jun Murai and Keisuke Tanaka, “Name management of JUNET,” Information Processing Society of Japan, the 31st National Convention Proceedings (II), pp.875-876, September 1985

[36] At that time, email addresses that were not in a domain name format such as “user@host.UUCP” and “host1!host2!host3!user” were the mainstream in UUCP-based networks outside Japan.

[37] J. Postel, "Assigned numbers", RFC 820, January 1983

[38] IANA Report on Request for Redelegation of the .jp Top-Level Domain

[39] Koki Higashida, “From opening of BITNET to the Internet, 10 year history of BITNETJP,” pp. 32, 1996

[40] WIDE Project, “WIDE Project research report 1989,” pp.21-22, March 1990

[41] AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)

[42] WIDE Project, “WIDE Project research report 1992,” pp.86, March 1993

[43] “Monuments of Junet and fj newsgroups”

[44] Jun Murai, “The Internet, a chapter in the history: From JNIC to JPNIC and to establishment of APNIC ~ memoir of Masaki Hirabaru,” JPNIC Newsletter No.40, November 2008

[45] Hiroaki Takada and Masaki Hirabaru, [Operation of domestic IP Internet – JNIC and JEPG-",-",-],-", Computer Centre of the University of Tokyo annual report No.23, pp.27-32, September 1993

[46] Masaki Hirabaru and Hiroaki Takada, “Operational management of domestic IP Internet and activity of JCRN,” JCRN seminar academic research and networks, pp.57-58, March 1992

[47] Atsushi Onoe, “The Internet, a chapter in the history: 3 system DNS,” JPNIC Newsletter No.51, August 2012

[48] Masaki Hirabaru and Hiroaki Takada, “Operational management of domestic IP Internet and activity of JCRN,” JCRN seminar academic research and network, pp.59, March 1992

[49] J.K. Reynolds, J. Postel, "Assigned numbers", RFC 990, November 1986

[50] S. Romano, M.K. Stahl, "Internet numbers", RFC 1020, November 1987

[51] Regional Internet Registry; RIR、アールアイアール


[53] S. Romano, M.K. Stahl, M. Recker, "Internet numbers", RFC 1117, August 1989

[54] WIDE Project, “WIDE Project research report 1991,” pp.37, March 1992

[55] The 5th JPNIC Steering Committee, “DNS management group work report,” January 1994

[56] Masaki Hirabaru and Hiroaki Takada, “Operational management of domestic IP Internet and activity of JCRN,” JCRN seminar academic research and networks, pp.60-61, March 1992

[57] Jun Murai, Masaki Hirabaru and Masaya Nakayama, “Activity of JPNIC and APNIC,” IP Meeting '93, pp.4, December 1993

[58] “Establishment of Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC) (purpose of establishment)”

[59] It is mentioned in “Activities of JPNIC and APNIC” that use of “J” alone might cause confusion with the name of the other countries starting with J (Jordan, Jamaica, etc.).

[60] Communication standard for public packet switching network regulated by CCITT (present ITU-T)