On April 29 and 30th the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan hosted the G7 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministers meeting in the beautiful city of Takamatsu in Kagawa prefecture (Takamatsu is lauded for its sanuki udon noodles, but more on that later…).
It was a privilege for me to attend the first G7 ICT Ministerial meeting held in 20 years. A joint declaration was issued at the conclusion of the meeting by the ICT Ministers of Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US; representatives from the European Union, OECD and International Telecommunications Union were also in attendance.
Notably the declaration:
- Seeks to catalyze multi-stakeholder efforts to bring 1.5 billion new Internet users online by 2020.
- Promotes efforts that address the challenges of digital exclusion through education and training on essential digital skills and initiatives to facilitate the use of ICT, including the Internet, to all people.
- Promotes the development of ICT standards including reference architecture models that will continue to be industry-led primarily, voluntary and consensus driven, based on principles of transparency, openness, impartiality and market needs.
- Affirms the importance of developing and protecting intellectual property and recognizes that strong intellectual property regimes foster open markets, competition, innovation and growth.
- Reaffirms commitment to encouraging ICT R&D relating to emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data analytics, 5G mobile telecommunications, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and robotics.
- Affirms the importance of pro-competition policy approaches that ensure fair and non-discriminatory treatment of companies and that avoid the use of competition remedies to pursue industrial policy goals.
I spent a week in Japan talking with policy makers from the Diet, the Cabinet Secretariat and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and about topics including 5G, Internet of Things, cybersecurity and the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab and Qualcomm Wireless Reach programs. Japan aspires to be among the first countries to launch 5G and is already highly advanced in robotics. Pepper, seen below, is Softbank’s humanoid robot that can read human emotions. He happily greets visitors at the Qualcomm Japan office and brings a smile to your face.
I also participated in the G7 ICT Ministerial Multistakeholder conference in Takamatsu on a panel themed “Fostering innovation and economic growth with ICT”. I highlighted the Boston Consulting Group report “The Mobile Revolution: How Mobile Technologies Drive a Trillion-Dollar Impact” and its policy recommendations which call for an environment that fosters innovation and investment to enable the future growth of mobile. The conclusions include the need for strong patent protection, the importance of market-driven licensing and industry-driven standards and the continuous allocation and availability of additional radio spectrum.
In addition, I spoke about our sustainability priorities of bringing the future forward faster with transformative technologies such as the use of mobile ultrasounds in Morocco via the Wireless Reach initiative, which helps improve care for women through early detection and treatment of major causes of maternal mortality. The Mobile Ultrasound Patrol project provides doctors and nurses with convenient backpacks containing devices that are wirelessly connected to specialists in hospital clinics. I was also able to talk about how we are accelerating innovation in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through initiatives such as the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab and our collaboration with FIRST.
The Japanese government, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications did a wonderful job hosting the G7 ICT Ministers Meeting. Minister Sanae Takaichi, one of three women cabinet members in Japan, addressed the G7 Ministers participants and highlighted the essential role of ICT in economic development and social inclusion. She also thanked the G7 community for its support for the victims of the recent Kumamoto earthquake and urged us all to try the tasty udon noodles in Takamatsu.
It was great to represent Qualcomm as one of the stakeholders in the discussion in Takamatsu and, in particular, I thank the government of Japan for its leadership in connecting a digital world.