Sessions summary of IGF 2023 Readout

Date and Time:

  • [Day 1] Tuesday, 26 December 2023, 15:00-18:40 (hybrid)
  • [Day 2] Wednesday, 27 December 2023, 15:00-18:50 (hybrid)

Opening Remarks

The IGF 2023 debriefing was held in a hybrid format, both in-person and online, over two days on December 26 and 27, 2023.  In his opening remarks, Masanobu Katoh, Chair of the Rejuvenation Team of the National IGF in Japan for IGF 2023, announced that IGF Kyoto 2023, with over 6,000 off-line participants from more than 170 countries and a total of over 9,000 registered participants, was the most attended IGF ever, and he would like to continue discussions on future Internet governance initiatives in Japan.

1. Organising IGF Kyoto 2023

Yoichi Iida, International Strategy Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC)

Yoichi Iida of MIC, who hosted IGF 2023, mentioned that Prime Minister Kishida, who attended the opening ceremony and other events, stated that the multi-stakeholder approach and inclusiveness of the IGF were important. Iida also mentioned that he believes the discussions held at the AI session of IGF 2023 on the Hiroshima AI Process, which Japan has been leading in the G7, could be reflected in the making of global AI-related policies, and concluded by expressing his gratitude for the great cooperation of all parties involved.

Voice from Youth

Taichiro Fujino, JPNIC IGF Fellow

JPNIC has implemented a programme to support three young people to participate in IGF Kyoto 2023 (fellowship) with the aim of capacity building of new human resources. According to Fujino, one of the young people who spoke at IGF 2023, the following were voiced: the problem of silos due to multiple fora for discussion; civil society and the technical community are excluded from state-led activities; the content of discussions does not fully reach the policy-making side; the modality is unclear regarding the GDC. There was a sense of mistrust, such as doubts about whether the UN was really aiming to be broadly multi-stakeholder.

2. University-wide participation in IGF Kyoto 2023 and organising side events

Keiko Tanaka, Cyber Kyoto Laboratory, The Kyoto College of Graduate Studies for Informatics 

The KCG Group (Kyoto Computer Gakuin and The Kyoto College of Graduate Studies for Informatics) has established Japan's first School of Internet Governance (SIG) secretariat on campus and is organising a hybrid IGF Kyoto 2023. SIG events, including a public open class, with special lectures by former IGF Secretary General Markus Kumar and ICANN Board Director Avri Doria at a pre-event, and a keynote speech by IGF Secretary General Chengetai Masango. The KCG Group also contributed to the promotion of youth participation by providing accommodation for young people attending the IGF, distributing English-language brochures introducing domestic IG-related initiatives, opening a remote hub, and encouraging students and faculty members to participate in the IGF. The KCG Group plans to continue its exchange and capacity-building activities with national and international youth in the future. 

3. Participation in AI-related sessions, etc.

Nobuhisa Nishigata, Computer Communications Division at the Ministry of Internal affairs and Communications (MIC) 

Regarding the exhibit he was in charge of at IGF Kyoto 2023 entitled IGF VILLAGE, its concept was "Transmission from Japan," aiming at promoting not only Japan's technological capabilities but also its policy initiatives and traditional culture, as well as the Osaka Expo 2025. Nishigata noted that the IGF VILLAGE was very well attended, in part because all attendees   had to go through the exhibition hall to get the conference venue. He also noted that Japan has been leading the discussion on AI since the Takamatsu G7 meeting in 2016, and told the audience that although IGF 2023 was a great success, it is not the end of the story.  He expressed his hopes to absorb and develop the discussion domestically in the future.

4. Internet fragmentation, the global knowledge commons and the role of the IGF

Tomoaki Watanabe, Center for Global Communications, International University of Japan

With regard to the 'fragmentation of the internet' (WS #405), Watanabe commented that the definitions were varied, and the debate was endless, so the discussion should be focused on identifying solutions and critical fragmentation. He also reported that the session on the Global Knowledge Commons (TH #134) introduced the Digital Knowledge Commons and the problems of initiatives to utilise openly available intellectual resources.

He stated that multi-stakeholder discussions at the IGF are important as a forum for 'groundwork' and 'public comment' for consensus-building and that he thinks the IGF plays a significant role in international discussions.

As an overall impression, he found  that the attractive aspect of the IGF is the diversity of people , and that participants can hear unexpected and interesting stories. However, he thinks that the 'high-level sessions' may go against the spirit of the IGF, which is to discuss things on an equal footing. In addition, he stated that it is a challenge that some people are not able to participate fully in the IGF, as many of them work in their spare time from their day jobs.

5. Achievement seen from ”Global Acceptance of Manga and Online Piracy” Session and Booth Deployment

Kensaku Fukui, Kotto Dori Law Office

He explained the efforts of the anti-piracy team (known as JPMAC)  which consists of five publishing companies (Shogakukan, Shueisha, Kodansha, KADOKAWA and Square Enix) and  emphasized there are still 150 million pirate sites despite all measures being taken. Some participants on the day commented that authorised versions are not distributed in a timely manner and that the costs are high, but when Moto Hagio spoke about her thoughts from a creator's point of view, she was met with loud applause. Fukui also said that special videos and booklets written by 16 popular manga artists were distributed at the booth in IGF VILLAGE, and that the booth had the largest number of visitors of all the booths there.

He stated that, in fact, it is not known that there is a lot of pirated viewing in developed countries, and that there are structural issues common to various online crimes that need to continue to be communicated.

6. Presentation and discussion of participants' impressions

Moderator: Hirofumi Hotta, Japan Registry Services

Regarding the holding of the meeting in Saudi Arabia, a participant shared information that there has been opposition from various parties.

Another participant asked how those involved in Internet governance would approach the meeting if the modality to which everyone agrees was held beside Saudi Arabia, although there have been calls to hold NETmundial again. In this regard, Maemura said that the 2014 NETmundial was a successful process, and there is a value in having such initiative outside the UN, but even if we produce an outcome document, it will not be empowering, so it will end up being the same modality as the IGF.  As a result, he commented back that he is looking forward to seeing what the implications will be in the end.

Wataru Ohgai, JPNIC IGF Fellow

In his capacity as Youth cum Tech, Wataru Ohgai shared his experience of organising Youth social events in cooperation with the ISOC Youth Standing Group. He said that the networking there was important and that he strongly felt that, unlike the open bottom-up and rough consensus at ICANN and RIRs, the IGF is a platform for dialogue rather than decision-making.

Yoshiki Uchida, JPNIC IGF Fellow

Yoshiki Uchida is studying a protocol called DTN, developed by Vint Cerf, which can be used for interplanetary communciation. Uchida shared an episode where he met Vint Cerf at the IGF in person, he innocently asked Vint Cerff, "Do you know DTN?" and Vint Cerf grinned and took a photo with him. Uchida also commented that he had previously only been aware of the technical aspects of the internet but the IGF 2023 made him realise how little he was aware of governance.

Masayuki Hatta, Surugadai University

He explained that he has recently been interested in regulations related to end-to-end encryption and that one of the two sessions he attended related to this topic. Finally, he raised the issue of next year's IGF being held in Saudi Arabia and commented on the significance of the IGF as a forum for mediating the recent conflict between engineers and society.

7. Planning and Organising a Session on CSIRT

Masae Toyama, Global Coordination Division, JPCERT/CC

Workshop #396 covered how CSIRT activities are important not only for emergency response to global incidents, but also for collaborative activities during normal times, and introduced the challenges of supporting resources and funding, and reaching out to society as a whole. She also noted that networking session #44 provided an opportunity for CSIRT practitioners to come together and talk casually.

Toyama said that she realised that running sessions does not always work as expected and is considering how to make the sessions more interesting from next year onwards.

As observations, she stated that she did not feel that the discussions at the IGF had an impact on international policy-making; that there was no place for impromptu gatherings and only scheduled discussions were possible; that the sessions were fragmented and had no relevance; that it was difficult to gather people at the same time while the large-scale sessions were held; and that it seemed there was a sense of manipulation and ranking of the importance of the sessions. 

In light of the issues raised, she expressed her willingness to continue planning and participating in sessions at the IGF in the future, as well as disseminating information in the security community to spread the discussion on Internet governance.

8. Thinking about Internet Governance in 2023

Jun Murai, Keio University

Murai spoke in seven sessions at IGF 2023, noting that he had the rare opportunity to discuss the high-level session on AI on a panel with presidents from Google and Meta, who represent the industry, as well as Vint Cerf. 

In the session on China, he said that China has two goals: to use the global Internet for its economy and to use it as a country to monitor its citizens.  

As for the session on manga piracy, Murai said that he was impressed by Moto Hagio's words, "What is important in the digital age is whether we can protect the essence of culture". He also noted that the culture of right-opening of Japanese manga books had been adopted abroad since 2014, which showed the strength of the influence of Japanese manga.

9. On efforts to engage Japanese Youth in the international community - IGF 2023 workshop by high school student researchers -

Tomoko Imai, Jiyugaoka Gakuen High School

Jiyugaoka Gakuen High School is participating in a research and development project on AI robots to support communication as part of its students' activities to work with people around the world to solve problems, and students presented a report in a session on AI and children's rights.

In Youth activities,  students need to be able to use English with the support of automatic translation technology, etc. Cooperation was sought to help Japanese students make their global debut by providing a place to connect young people to the international community and improving the communication environment in schools. 

10. Participation in the session on “Child online safety: Industry engagement and regulation” hosted by UNICEF

Toshiaki Tateishi, Internet Content Safety Association of Japan (ICSA) / Japan Internet Providers Association (JAIPA)

Toshiaki Tateishi reported that the session introduced the ICSA's efforts since 2016 to create a reporting list of online sexually abusive images and other information and to remove or block them.

Hasegawa of JAIPA, who participated in the conference for the first time, commented that despite the number of participants from all over the world and the size of the conference, many Japanese people do not know about the IGF and it would be good to create more opportunities to make them aware of it.

11. Planning and organising the metaverse session

Akinori Maemura, Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC)

Maemura planned the session intending to hold  a talk event with Nemu, a virtual beautiful girl, at the pre-event of the 2022 IGF in Japan, as well as at the IGF 2023 Kyoto. Mira from the University of Malta, who is collaborating with Nemu, took the stage via Zoom this year. She reported on the introduction of a metaverse space with a high degree of freedom, an operation demonstration, the results of a metaverse opinion poll, sociological considerations on choosing another gender in an avatar, the harassment in the metaverse, etc.  Maemura also mentioned that he felt the response to the outreach was positive, with a cumulative total of 90 people participating.

12. Presentation and discussion of participants’ impressions

Moderator: Masanobu Katoh, Chair of the Rejuvenation Team of the National IGF in Japan for IGF 2023

Speaker: Keisuke Kamimura, Daito Bunka University

Kamimura, who spoke as one of the panellists of the Policy Network on Meaningful Access at IGF 2023, explained that the issues of multilingualisation and internationalised domains are old and new issues, with new problems arising from the development of new technologies such as AI, and that it is important for Japan to be aware of these issues. He also suggested that Japan should disseminate information on internet governance through the use of new technologies and the internet, such as the metaverse, which is Japan's forte.

In response to the opinion that incentives and arrangements are necessary to encourage young people to participate in the IGF on a continuous basis, there were some divided discussions, with some participants suggesting that a junior version of the IGF, led by young people, should be held.

13. Exchange of views on future IGF initiatives in Japan

Moderator: Akinori Maemura, Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC)

Speaker: Masanobu Katoh, Chair of the Rejuvenation Team of the National IGF in Japan for IGF 2023

The following views were raised.

  • The important issue is how to carry the success of IGF 2023 into the future.

  • We would like to promote activities that youth in Japan would be interested in and get involved in. 

  • Activities on Internet governance in Japan are closed and difficult to see from the outside, so only the same members participate in activities and the number of participants may not increase.

  • Since the UN IGF website is difficult to understand and updates are slow, it is necessary to disseminate information in Japanese in an easy-to-understand manner.

  • Efforts on IGFs should be more active in Japan.

  • Why don't we start with activities related to the IGF in Japan, even if it's just a trial run, and improve them by listening to stakeholders' opinions as we go along?

  • It is good to start for the time being, but at the very least, it is important to stress that the endorsement of the local community is clear.