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Home > Tech Reiews > Japan Technology Review Last Updated: 15:24 03/09/2007
Japan Technology Review #42: June 24, 2002

Organizing the Strategic Council on Intellectual Property

By Hajime Yamada (GLOCOM)

In the last issue I reported a recent dispute between Japan and China over intellectual property rights concerning DVD players. Intellectual property is one of the keys for the prosperity of corporations and nations, and therefore is attracting increasing attention by the public. In this report I will introduce the progress of the Strategic Council on Intellectual Property constituted in the Prime Minister's Official Residence.

The Strategic Council on Intellectual Property was established in February of 2002 in the Prime Minister's Official Residence. The purposes of this Council are described in English on the Website of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. I quote from the Web page:

The importance of intellectual property is increasing, from the perspective of both enhancing the international competitiveness of Japanese industries and revitalizing the economy. In response, the Strategic Council on Intellectual Property (hereinafter referred to as "the Council") shall be convened in order to quickly establish and advance a national strategy for intellectual property.

The Council consists of the Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, the Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy and IT Policy, the Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy, the Minister for Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry as well as the experts noted in the attachment, and the Prime Minister shall convene its meetings.

What is important in the above paragraphs is that the Council consists of various Ministers "as well as the experts noted in the attachment." Actually, the following individuals were summoned as members. From industry, Hatsuo Aoki, Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. Japan, and Fujio Mitarai, Canon Inc., are the two representatives. From academia, Hiroyuki Abe of Tohoku University, Yuichiro Anzai of Keio University, Nagaaki Oyama of Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Nobuhiro Nakayama of the University of Tokyo were appointed. Four members, namely Hisamitsu Arai from the National Forum for Intellectual Property Strategy, Akira Koike from Japan Patent Attorneys Association, Isamu Tomitsuka from the Recording Industry Association of Japan, and Kazuko Matsuo, Attorney-at-Law and Patent Attorney, represent associated parties in the field of intellectual property rights. Hiroshi Kuwahara of the Council for Science and Technology Policy was also invited as a member.

So far, the Council has met four times in order to compile the "Outline for Intellectual Property Strategy." The draft of this Outline has been made public. In summary:

The draft version of the Outline incorporates 55 measures for the Government to work on until FY2005, including the introduction of a system to evaluate the performance of university instructors based on their acquisition of patents, enhancing measures to counter industrial espionage and efforts against illegal copies, and the creation of specialized graduate schools, all of which are in line with the four pillars of creating, protecting and applying intellectual properties, and human resource development.

Furthermore, the members of the Council agreed to reorganize the current system, under which each ministry and agency takes an independent approach, and to establish a Strategic Headquarters, as part of the cross-sectional reform spanning all ministries and agencies as part of a focused systemic review, in addition to propose the adoption of the "Basic Law on Intellectual Properties (provisional name)" by next year's Ordinary Session of the Diet.

In the United States, strategy for intellectual property has been developed since the 1980s, and achieved success in the 1990s. Today, especially in the field of information communications, the United States has come to take a one-sided lead in the world. Twenty years behind, Japan recently has started similar enforcement. Although the delay could be almost fatal, we would like to watch closely how far discussions on the strategic importance of intellectual property progresses, as well as how thoroughly the Government will put the proposed measures into action.

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