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Column - History of Internet in Japan

History of the internet in Japan

These days, Japan is known as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. However, the internet was only introduced in the mid-1980s, so it's phenomenal that this nation has made such astounding online development. In this blog post, we'll take a look back at the history of the internet in Japan.


Just as in other nations, the internet was initially introduced as something of an experiment. It wasn't obvious whether or not it would actually end up being successful, and its origins were simply as an experimental network project that computer scientists would use to share their ideas and helpful information. This network was called JUNET, and it linked three universities within Tokyo. It also connected to the equivalent system in the US, but this was as far as the connection went.


JUNET began to gain popularity amongst other scientists, as well as those exclusively interested in computer science. Later in the 1980s, a new research project began which at the time was known as WIDE, or Widely Integrated Distributed Environment. This was a domestic network which also connected with the system in the US, via direct Internet Protocol technology. It was to be this second research project which would really mark the beginning of Japan's internet revolution.


WIDE began to capture the attention of corporate businesses, all of whom sought a better connection with the US. However, WIDE soon saw the growth of people who wanted to use the internet for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, and found there was an unforeseen demand for the service.


The INET event in June 1992 brought together users of the internet from all over the world, and it was held in Kobe in Japan. It was after this event that the internet in Japan began to really gather steam, with the first commercial provider TWICS starting up, which meant those without an academic background were able to use the internet. Eventually, the IIJ, a start-up ISP, obtained an official license from the government to run an international internet.


Today it is estimated that 91.1% of Japan's population is online - that's a 3.4% share of global internet users (Source: Internet Live Stats ). Considering the size of Japan, those are phenomenal statistics.

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