ISO/IEC JTC 1                                                         
Information Technology                                                

ISO/IEC  JTC 1 N 5929                   

DATE:  1999-10-04     


National Body Contribution                                            

Comments from the National Body of Japan on the Activities of SC 2    

National Body of Japan                                                


This document is circulated to JTC 1 National Bodies for review and   
consideration at the November 1999 JTC 1 Plenary meeting in Seoul.    


DUE DATE:            

DISTRIBUTION:  P and L Members                                             


DISKETTE NO.:            

NO. OF PAGES:  5         

Secretariat, ISO/IEC JTC 1, American National Standards Institute, 11 
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Comments on the Activities of SC 2


The National Body of Japan


In response to the request in document N 5754, the National Body of Japan submits the following comments on the Activities of SC 2:


Japan carefully investigated and reviewed the current activities and the operating practices of SC2. As a result, Japan has come to greatly appreciate the devoted efforts by SC2 for the standardization in the area of coded character set and its invaluable accomplishment. At the same time, a couple of issues have been identified during the review. Japan recommends JTC 1 to ask SC2 to consider the following proposals on the transparency and the productivity of SC2 so that many more successful international standards in this area can be developed also in the future.

Proposal 1: For transparency of the SC2 projects and operations

SC2/WG2 has been maintaining a document called "roadmap" for its scheduled plan for its work items. Japan believes that the NP process is required for every new work item except for the case of the very minor enhancement of the existing work. Therefore, Japan recommends SC2 to put its every new work item for the future into the NP process instead of simply asking for the endorsement by JTC 1 for the modification of its programs of work (PoW). Japan also recommends SC2 to consider publishing its "roadmap" as one of its TRs to keep higher visibility of its activities among the members of JTC 1.

Rationale for proposal 1:

The activity of SC2 is really huge aiming at collecting all the character sets in the world and establishing their standards. According to the SC2 charter document (SC2 N3342), inclusion of living language scripts will be almost completed with the publication of ISO/IEC 10646 part-1 2nd edition. It also includes key minority scripts.

On the other hands, historical scripts which are related to religions and academic applications are being planned mainly for ISO/IEC 10646 part-2. Per the part-2 schedule, the first part standardization has just started and will continue until year 2008 adding many and huge volume of the scripts.

Comparing with the work of the other SCs, the SC2's work is very time consuming; not only for the addition of full new scripts but also for the supplementation and the extension of repertoires on the scripts which are already in the international standard. Therefore, it is necessary for SC2 to make its future plan open to JTC 1 through NP processes for attaining its transparency and visibility. It is the fundamental principle of the SC operation that every project in SCs is subject to an approval by JTC 1 through the NP process. JTC 1 has had a plenty of discussions in the past concerning the extent to which the new work is allowed through the modification of PoW. It has been generally agreed that the new work allowed through the modification of PoW should be limited to the pure subdivisions or minor enhancements of the existing work. Hence, Japan recommends SC2 to follow this well established traditional interpretation of JTC 1 on the modification of its PoW, and to consider making NP proposals for every major enhancements of the current existing standards (see JTC1 Advisory Group Resolution JTC1 N 378 and N 1262E, and related contributions).

Proposal 2: For higher reliability of SC2 standards

In the process of the standardization of the historical and the minority scripts which is being undertaken currently, it is necessary to acquire enough attention of the experts in the respective fields to attain the high reliability of the resultant standards.

Therefore, for the standardization of the historical scripts, Japan recommends SC2 to identify experts or expert groups for these scripts and establish firm liaisons with these groups. For the standardization of the minority script, Japan also recommends SC2 to invite participation of the native users of the script in its standardization process.

Rationale for proposal 2:

Japan considers that JTC 1 currently does not have enough expertise and resources for the standardization work of the historical and the minority scripts. Because the subjects are so specialized and professional, it will be quite difficult for each JTC 1 national body to keep specialists for properly reviewing each draft proposal in this field. Therefore, it is quite questionable whether JTC 1 will ever be able to have a confidence or a responsibility in the results of its ballots.

JTC 1 needs to devise some new methodologies or mechanisms to ensure the high reliability and the accountability for the resultant standards in this domain. The historical scripts to be considered for the addition to the current standard will be far larger, if they are to be complete, than those which are currently listed on the roadmap. Considering the fact that there is a lack of precise and detailed information, and a shortage of the resources, it is necessary for JTC 1 and SC2 to find some solutions with regard to these issues as early as possible.

In the case of the minority scripts, there are many cases where any organizations for the standardization are still not existent in the focused regions or peoples. The standardization of these scripts should be handled very carefully. If the participation of the native users is not available, the project should be postponed until an alternative solution for ensuring the reliability of the standards is found.

Proposal 3: For a clear interpretation of the "Market Relevance" for SC2

In the NP process, items related to the "market relevance" must be defined and evaluated for each work item proposal, but it is not clear enough what the "market relevance" means for the SC2 related standardization work. To avoid any confusion in the NP process for SC2, Japan recommends SC2 to propose a reasonable interpretation for the term "market relevance" for which JTC 1 can attain a general consensus for the SC2 related projects.

Rationale for proposal 3:

Unless JTC 1 members are provided with a clear definition and an interpretation of the term "market relevance," there may occur some confusion among national bodies in evaluating the "market relevance" for the SC2 related work especially at the time of NP ballot. One possible way to resolve this may be to define a SC2 specific interpretation for this term properly taking into account the cultural adaptability aspect of the international standards.