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1Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to the use of digital information. Furthermore, the country is characterized by higher rates of diffusion of personal devices such as smart phones and tablets than many other developed countries.

2According to broadband statistics compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operations and Development (OECD) (2019), the number of subscribers in Japan to fixed broadband services, including fiber-optic cables to ordinary households, data signal lines (DSL) and cable modems connected to a cable television, was 40,068,000 in December 2018. This figure ranks second next to the United States (110,778,000). Although European countries have fewer subscribers than Japan, the differences are relatively small, and the number of broadband subscribers in Japan is not large given the size of its population. The penetration rate in Japan is 31.7 subscribers per 100 persons, which is almost the same as the average penetration rate in OECD countries (30.9).

3In contrast, mobile broadband services for smartphones and tablets have rapidly expanded in Japan, resulting in a striking penetration rate. The number of mobile subscribers in Japan is 217,839,000, which is also second among OECD countries after the United States (473,663,000). Japan has long led the world in penetration rate for mobile broadband (172.3 subscribers per 100 persons). While people in OECD countries on average subscribe to around one mobile broadband service (109.7 subscribers per 100 persons), Japanese people subscribe to far more than one service. The diversified use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as the possession of multiple smartphones, accounts for Japan’s high penetration rate for mobile broadband services.

4The purpose of this issue is to introduce the connections between broadband and the revitalization of Japanese regions in recent years. To begin, Yoshio ARAI provides explanation of the historical development of telecommunications infrastructure in Japan. The following three articles are recent case studies from metropolitan areas such as Tokyo. Industries that depend on teams of specialists such as the animation industry had traditionally been concentrated in metropolitan areas. However, the animation industry has recently been experiencing geographic decentralization to peripheral regions outside Tokyo as broadband networks have developed (Seiji HANZAWA). At the same time, support systems for collaboration among small- and medium-sized enterprises or services such as childcare information systems that enable balance between work and child rearing (Mikoto KUKIMOTO) are growing to satisfy niche markets.

5On the other hand, in regional cities that are facing both dwindling birthrates and aging populations, broadband networks are playing an important role in maintaining the efficiency of livelihood support services including medical treatment (Tsutomu NAKAMURA). In addition, in peripheral areas such as mountain villages and remote islands, broadband networks are assuming the role of maintaining both employment and population. Among the typical efforts undertaken by peripheral municipalities and companies are the attraction of satellite offices (Kenji HASHIMOTO), tourism development with Wi-Fi spots (Yasukazu SATAKE), and the development of distribution channels for primary products in metropolitan areas (Hiroaki KANMURA).

6It is hoped that this special issue of NETCOM will contribute towards a better understanding of the diverse use of broadband in regional promotion in Japan in recent years.

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Kenji Hashimoto, Yoshio Arai et Kenta Yamamoto, « Editorial »Netcom [En ligne], 33-3/4 | 2019, mis en ligne le 05 février 2020, consulté le 16 mai 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Kenji Hashimoto

Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences, Waseda University, 1-6-1, Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 169-8050, Japan. E-mail :

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Yoshio Arai

Department of Regional Economics, Faculty of Economics, Teikyo University, Toyosatodai 1-1, Utsunomia, Japan. E-mail :

Articles du même auteur

Kenta Yamamoto

Kokugakuin University, Japan. E-mail :

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