The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Yoshida: Utilizing the regional SNS to participate in politics

Paper presenter: 
Yoshida, M., Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

The Japanese government has been planning the e-Japan Strategy since 2000, which has now been launched into the third phase. It is a comprehensive system covering seven areas: medical services, food, lifestyle, small and medium enterprise financing, knowledge, employment and labour, and public services. One of the main issues in the area of public service is to construct an e-government system and have citizens involved and utilize it. However, very few people use the resident registration services online.

On the other hand, the increasing number of users of new internet communication tools, such as SNSs (Social Networking Services), is drawing the attention of various fields. Recently a growing number of local governments or local NPOs (Non-profit organizations) have also been introducing SNSs. These services allow citizens to disseminate and exchange information freely over the internet, and there is a growing trend of local governments using this information exchange to promote community participation and interaction. Governmental committees are holding discussions on the role of local communities in the era of new internet. It is also said that to meet the challenges of ageing societies, it is necessary to create opportunities for senior citizens to play a more active role in communities. Regional SNSs promote participation of seniors in community and volunteer activities.

This paper first analyse some successful cases in Japan where residents or local government are allowed leadership roles in networking in their area, and good relationships between the two are established. The effect of regional SNSs has yet to be studied, let alone revitalization by citizen’s collaboration through SNSs. The facts and background of local governments introducing SNS have been reported, but the mechanism of participation, communication and collaboration is still unknown. Conventional online communication between local governments and citizens depends on technologies such as internet BBs or messages from homepages. However, it has traditionally been difficult for people with a shared awareness of issues to collaborate when limited to the kind of communication found within an official and one-way-communication setting.

Second, using the nation-wide questionnaire data set that had been conducted by the Fujitsu Research Institute, I present a factor analysis and a covariance structure analysis with the model that rich social capital have an impact on residents’ participation in politics with online social networking. The questions items follow the “Social Capital Harmonised Questionnaire Set” which has been done by the Officer for National Statistics, UK. The target respondents are the users of the online regional social networking services in Japan, and the number of samples are 1648.

This paper will clarify how regional SNSs can be useful for community participation, what are possible uses of SNS for eGovernment, what are the key components for community participation and regional revitatlization Finally, the paper will contribute to design community participation with ICT.

Michiko Yoshida