Hirofumi Hotta is a Board Director and the Senior Executive Vice-President at Japan Registry Services Co (JPRS), the organisation responsible for operating .jp, the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for Japan. In this edition of our Leaders of Tech interview series, we speak to Hirofumi about how JPRS is building a better future through the internet, the importance of multi-stakeholder internet governance and more.
1. The JPRS corporate philosophy states JPRS contributes to the development of the internet and the building of a better future for everyone. What are three things JPRS is focused on to build a better future?
Three things we are focused on are "provision of stable services," "contribution to internet society," and "maintaining sustainability and evolvability as an organisation."
Provision of stable services
The internet is an important information source, communication tool and collaboration tool for people around the world. In addition, the Internet of Things (IoT), in which machines communicate with each other via the internet without human intervention, is evolving rapidly. It is no exaggeration to say that the development of modern society would not be achievable without the use of the internet.
The internet is made up of various components that combine to provide services to customers. Our services are among such components - domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS). JPRS not only sets the policy for JP domain name services, but also develops and operates the system and services.
As the internet is indispensable to society, domain names and the DNS are extremely important, and we must avoid situations where the internet is unavailable. If it should become unavailable, it must be recovered as quickly as possible.
Keeping JP domain names ready for registration whenever they are needed and ensuring JP DNS is up and running so that JP domain names can be used on the internet supports the overall stability of the internet. This in turn supports the development of modern society and improvement of people's quality of life.
Contribution to internet society
As a registry of JP domain names, JPRS participates in and cooperates with internet-related organisations and their activities to contribute to the stable operation and evolution of the internet. The following are examples of activities that JPRS is engaged in.
- Operate the M-Root DNS server, one of the Root DNS servers jointly with the WIDE Project to ensure the stability of the global DNS operation
- Contribute to ICANN community activities through leadership, participation, and exchange of views
- Actively engage in research and development of advanced technologies in order to promptly respond to changes in the environment surrounding the internet and the needs of society, through participation and standardisation in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and other arenas
- Disseminate information and raise awareness about domain names and the DNS.
Maintaining sustainability and evolvability as an organisation
We believe that, in order to provide stable services, JPRS needs to sustain and evolve itself as an organisation, where recruitment and training competent employees are extremely important.
To increase the awareness of and interests in domain names and the DNS, we conduct .jp awareness raising in universities and internet education support activities for high school students to familiarise them with domain names, DNS, JP domain names and JPRS. For example, we have distributed free comic booklets on domain names and the DNS for more than 10 years, and we also run a website where students can learn about the internet mechanism. In addition, JPRS has an in-house technical training center and continues to train its own engineers.
2. You were awarded honours from ICANN in 2017 and 2020 for your contributions to ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. Why is the multi-stakeholder model important to JPRS and its work?
We believe that free and vigorous discussions among various stakeholders, including governments, private organisations, and civil society, have contributed to the security and stability of the DNS.
Therefore, we believe that multi-stakeholder framework at ICANN should be maintained, and JPRS supports its framework by participation in various activities.
In JPRS' efforts to developing services, we also place emphasis on incorporating the opinions of various stakeholders. We stipulate the establishment of multi-stakeholder advisory committees in our bylaws, to consult with government, academia, internet users, registrars and others in defining our service policies.
3. JPRS is an advocate for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which are domain names that use local language scripts (e.g. エグザンプル.jp). In 2001, JPRS was among the first country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) managers to introduce IDNs. What are the benefits of IDNs for businesses?
In Japan, Japanese is the most familiar language and its written string is easily recognised and remembered. In addition, the Japanese language has different types of characters such as hiragana, katakana and kanji. The nuance conveyed differs depending on the type of characters used. IDNs can convey nuances that cannot be conveyed using only letters of the English alphabet, and we believe they are effective in branding a company's products and services.
Using a Japanese string stands out in the display of URLs on search results, increasing visual appeal not only online, but also in various printed materials and advertisements.
Because of these advantages, we believe that IDNs expand the possibilities for internet users and we have implemented IDNs and continue to provide services.
4. The .jp and .au domain name systems are vitally important parts of the global internet. How does JPRS keep .jp secure from cyber threats?
When protecting the DNS from cyber threats it is necessary to protect the DNS infrastructure, registration system and registration data all together. JPRS has implemented various actions to protect them.
To protect the DNS infrastructure, JPRS deployed IP Anycast globally in 2004, which provides load balancing, redundancy, shortening response time, localizing Denial of Service (DoS) attacks and mitigating Distributed DoS (DDoS) attacks.
It is reported that cyber attacks targeting large international events have been increasing since the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games. To prepare for such cyber attacks, JPRS temporarily added server instances of JP DNS during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. This worked effectively and no service disruptions occurred.
To protect JP registration system, JPRS keeps working to improve the quality of .jp services by mitigating DDoS attacks, monitoring the system on 24/7 basis and training operators to swiftly recover from system failure.
To protect the registration data of .jp, JPRS is working in collaboration with JP registrars and has introduced several measures, including enhancement of authentication on the registration interfaces, registry lock services, registrar lock services and authentication codes during domain name transfers.
5. What are JPRS’ top priorities for 2023?
In 2023, our top priorities will continue to be the stable provision of JPRS services including .jp, the continuation of secure and reliable services, and the development of our organisational capabilities that will enable us to achieve these goals.
In order to realise this, we believe it is necessary to strengthen and accumulate our own in-house technical capabilities and, in recent years, we have put particular emphasis not only on recruiting talented engineers but also on training engineers.
In terms of training, we have established a department specialising in the training of engineers. Through the training, our technical employees are trained to become engineers.
We believe that becoming an organisation with advanced technical capabilities is not only important for continuity and sophistication of JPRS's current services, including .jp, but also for new initiatives to realise a more secure internet in the future.
We are also committed to contributing to the development of the internet as a whole and expanding international cooperation in internet infrastructure operations. One specific initiative is further involvement in the M-Root DNS server operations and efforts to expand the number of instances, based on cooperation with the WIDE project, APNIC, and local organizations where DNS server instances are / will be located.
JPRS will continue to support the stable operation of the entire internet as a member of the 12 root server operating organisations around the world.