Japan to build multimedia test homes

Japan's Ministry of Construction, along with prefecture governments and a host of IT vendors, this year will implement the latest multimedia technologies in several thousand Japanese homes on an experimental basis, a ministry official has confirmed.

Specifics of the two-year experiment have not been decided, but the prefectural governments will take applications from ordinary citizens who are interested in having their homes wired to the Internet and equipped with PCs, video telephones and other IT gear, he says.

According to today's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's leading business daily, 6000 homes will take part, the project will start in June and the cost will be US$9.3 million a year.

The ministry official denies details in the newspaper report but confirms that the experiment will begin sometime this year.

The project -- to be funded by the ministry and local governments -- reflects growing concern within the Japanese government that the island nation needs to jump-start its adoption of technologies considered necessary for future economic growth and its aging population, observers say.

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