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Business News/ News / World/  Japan may implement UPI model, inter-linkage: Digital minister Kono

Japan may implement UPI model, inter-linkage: Digital minister Kono

He also pitched for India to support Japan’s proposal for a new international data organization.

Japan digital minister Kono Taro.Premium
Japan digital minister Kono Taro.

New Delhi: Japan will send a team to India after April’s G7 meeting to closely study the UPI platform, digital minister Kono Taro said. Japan would consider eventually linking systems if his country adopts UPI, Kono said in an interview. He also pitched for India to support Japan’s proposal for a new international data organization. Edited excerpts:

What will be the goal of this year’s G7 Digital and Tech Ministers’ Meeting?

For the G7 digital ministers meeting this year, our number one priority is DFFT or “data free flow with trust". We would like to operationalize DFFT by setting up an international body with a secretariat. We’ve been talking about DFFT on an ad hoc basis, but in order to operationalize it, we need an international organization with a secretariat to do some concrete projects. The number one project we need is to set up an international database on the rules and regulations of cross-border data transfer from each country. Right now, in Japan and the EU, we’re supposed to be standing on an equal basis, but if a small company in Japan wanted to do business in Europe, they probably don’t know exactly what they have to do in terms of data transfer. That’s because each country has regulation, guidelines, court judgments and these things change very frequently. So, we wanted to set up a database and automatically update the new rules. So, if a small company in Japan or India or whatever wanted to do business in other country, they can go to the database and find out exactly what they have to do. Number two, there are a lot of privacy-enhancing technologies around. We wanted to create an international regulatory sandbox for those emerging technologies. If we agree among all the countries that we will test the new technologies in the sandbox and if we pass, it could apply to all the countries participating. So, any company with a new technology could come to the sandbox and have it tested and if it passes, everyone can use it. We also need to discuss AI, fake news and disinformation as well as the physical security of the internet like underwater cables. So we are hoping India will get on board with us.

India has a UPI payment mechanism. Could that be an area of cooperation?

I was just talking to minister (Ashwini) Vaishnaw that we need to learn from India. We are actually sending a team after the G7 meetings to India to see what you are up to. I’m always pro-importing good systems to Japan.

Singapore and India have just linked their payments platforms. Will Japan look at something similar?

The economy is becoming more and more global and the world is becoming small. So, some kind of financial transaction mechanism, I think we need to improve it. There’s a lot of cost incurred on money transfer, but if there is any good technology which can allow us to do it, why not? Let us see how you do this and see if we can use that in Japan. If we’re going to use the same system, it is probably easier to link it.

India has already seen several attacks on its power grid. Has defending against these attacks been a part of your conversations with your counterparts in India?

Japan has also experienced some disinformation already, especially in the general election two years ago and in our upper house election last year. Today, we believe there’s state crafted disinformation going on; so, we need to be very careful about it. There have been attacks on hospitals in Japan and some major systems already; so, security is one of the big issues and I think we need to develop some kind of cooperation with India and other countries about those things. With information warfare, it’s very difficult to make an attribution; so, we have to be very careful. I was just talking to your minister Vaishnaw about security of the telecommunication systems. I think that is a starting point.

China produces a lot of technological equipment like in telecom which may be used for surveillance. Has there been any specific strand on partnership on that count with the Indian government with Japan?

If we need to recreate a supply chain of telecom equipment and others, we need to have alternatives. So Japan, US, Europe, India, and others need to work together to provide alternatives to Huawei or other Chinese equipment makers.

Japan has condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. India has taken a much more neutral stance. How is India’s position seen in Japan among the general public but also among politicians like yourself?

Well, to be honest, we hope to have India on board with us in the United Nations and on economic sanctions. At the same time, we understand India’s security concerns. So, it is understandable, but no one can justify what Russia has been doing against Ukraine and that needs to be condemned with the strongest words and aggressors need to be punished. So, we hope India could work with us.

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Updated: 13 Mar 2023, 12:33 AM IST
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