In this paper we describes 1) why and how we established JPNIC, that is, our background, motivation and purpose, 2) JPNIC's organization itself and its funding model, 3) current status of JPNIC's operation, which includes assigning IP network numbers based on CIDR and introducing geographical domain names, 4) cooperation with APNIC and InterNIC, and 5) plans toward next step for more stable operation.
We believe our experience will help other countries or areas which are planning to establish its country NIC.
Later assigning IP network numbers within Japan started in February 1989 under Japan Internet Protocol Coordination Group (JIPCG). Initially 256 class B (133.*), 512 class C (192.50.* and 192.51.*), and 1 class A network numbers were delegated from SRI NIC, the central IR at that time. JIPCG created a Japanese version of application form for IP network numbers translated from the version SRI NIC used. Since the form did not have English representations of each items, this had caused difficulties in exchanging information on assigned network numbers with the upper NIC until the form was revised.
With the rapid growth of the Internet in late 1980's, doing those functions became too heavy to be carried out by those volunteer groups. At least some neutral center which administrates common network resources had to be established.
Then Japan Network Information Center pilot project, which is called JNIC , had started since December 1991 under JCRN (Japan Committee of Research Networks), a Japanese organization similar to CCIRN (Coordination Committee for Intercontinental Research Networking), in cooperation with all the network service providers (NSPs) in Japan. This pilot project was intended to determine the requirements and to find the means to fulfill the smooth operation of Japan NIC. This activity was still experimental without any financial support. When JNIC started there were all research or academic NSPs, but later commercial NSPs would be expected to appear shortly.
JNIC took over duties on assigning JP domain names in December 1991 and then IP network numbers in June 1992 from those corresponding voluntary groups respectively. The DNS (Domain Name System) management in Japan was also taken over by JNIC. After one and half years pilot term of JNIC under JCRN, JNIC was reorganized to establish JPNIC as a consortium of NSPs in Japan.
When reforming JNIC as a new organization, we changed the abbreviation JNIC with JPNIC because the letter ``J'' was ambiguous and might conflict with other countries once one of the countries comes to have its country NIC. JPNIC holds its domain name JPNIC.NET in addition to NIC.AD.JP according to APNIC's proposal for country NICs to have its name in a common format, <ISO-3166 2-letter country code>NIC.NET.
JPNIC was established by all the NSPs in Japan in April 1993 as an independent and non-profit organization with the minimum fund based on the membership fee. The JPNIC Secretariat is still located in a university with some volunteers.
So-called NICs (Network Information Centers) are categorized into two groups; one is of NSPs which offers general assistance and information services to their users, and the other is an independent body acting as an Internet Registry (IR) for administrating common network resources, such as IP network numbers and domain names in the Internet.
In this paper we describes about JPNIC, an example for the latter category which executes the IR function within a certain country or area. We call it a country or national NIC.
The basic roles of a country NIC are 1) assignment of IP network numbers within the country, 2) allocation of domain names under a 2-letter top-level domain name (derived from ISO-3166) for the country, 3) registration of those numbers and names into a database, 4) management and arrangement of common DNS servers, and 5) on-line lookup service like WHOIS based on records stored in the database. Therefore a country NIC is to provide basic services necessary for operating and managing a part of the Internet covered by the NIC in cooperation with the other bodies which are responsible for the IR function.
Those services keeping world-wide uniqness of numbers or names and providing those information are vital to the use of the Internet although ordinary individual users may not aware that they enjoy the benefits of those services daily.
In this paper we describes 1) why and how we established JPNIC, that is, our background, motivation and purpose, 2) JPNIC's organization itself and its funding model, 3) current status of JPNIC's operation, which includes assigning IP network numbers and introducing geographical domain names, 4) cooperation with APNIC and InterNIC, and 5) plans toward next step for more stable operation.
We needed some coordinating body of NSPs in order to authorize those activities, and think it the most important to make the activities neutral, so that we decided to gather all NSPs in Japan on a single table and to collect money from them to ensure financial independence from others.
JPNIC has been established by NSPs as a center for allocating and managing common network resources as well as information. Most of the NSPs in Japan have become a JPNIC member and pay the annual membership fee according to its scale (the number of clients an NSP has) and type (academic or not). The member NSP sends some number of delegates to the General Meeting, according to its scale, to elect the directors who appoints the members of Steering Committee. The Steering Committee members are responsible for all JPNIC's operational activities, while the member NSPs have the final voting right to make a decision on the JPNIC regulations as well as financial issues during the General Meeting through their delegates.
A member NSP also gets the right to register JP domain names and IP network numbers into DNS maintained by JPNIC. A non-member NSP and an individual organization has no right to register. This enforces an NSP to be a member and also enforces an individual organization which uses a JP domain name or IP network numbers assigned by JPNIC to be a client of any of the member NSPs. Of course, JPNIC allocates a JP domain names and IP network numbers to an individual organization before connecting.
The previously centralized procedures for obtaining IP network numbers from the Global IR (known as InterNIC, formerly DDN NIC) have been replaced by a distributed system. Blocks of IP network numbers are delegated to subsidiary organizations which carry out the function. Domain names under a certain country's 2-letter code has been also delegated to the country.
Previously, the IR function in Japan had been delegated from the Global IR (SRI NIC, DDN NIC, or InterNIC) directly but since APNIC (Asia-Pacific Network Information Center) started its operation in September 1993, the assignment of IP network numbers and AS numbers has been delegated via APNIC to JPNIC. However, JPNIC is an independent organization executing the role of IR as well as other common functions for Japanese Internet. JPNIC acts as the Japanese registry for the delegation of Internet numbers and names in close operation and coordination with those organizations shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: NIC Hierarchy in Asia-Pacific Region
In this figure, RIPE NCC (Europe), APNIC (Asia Pacific) and InterNIC (North America) are under IANA. NIC is known as NCC (Network Coordination Centre) in Europe. InterNIC covers the countries which are not in these regions. Country NICs like JPNIC (Japan), KRNIC (Korea) and AUNIC (Australia) are under APNIC in the Asia Pacific region. As the number of country NICs in Asia Pacific region is still small, APNIC directly assigns the IP network numbers to those countries that do not have the IR function.
WG name Role ----------------------------------------------------- DOM JP domain name allocation IP-AS IP network number / AS number assignment DB Database management DNS DNS administration PUB Publication SOC Social issue investigation FUTURE Future organization investigation FINANCE Funding model investigation RULE Rule and regulation update APNIC APNIC cooperation IS Information service ASSESS Service assessmentTable 1: Working Groups in the Steering Committee
Under Steering Committee's responsibility, the JPNIC Secretariat executes daily jobs. Four important daily operations are assigning IP addresses, allocating domain names under JP, registering these numbers and names into DNS as well as a database, and providing network information via several methods such as WHOIS. JPNIC has accumulated a lot of records and gained experience in doing these operations.
Figure 2: Number of IP Networks Assigned for Japan by JPNIC
Figure 2 shows statistics about the accumulative number of class C network numbers assigned by Japan NIC (JNIC and JPNIC) from June 1993 (Note: This does not include network numbers assigned by the former body in Japan nor by the global IR.). The number of IP network numbers assigned grows mostly at some constant rate in Japan now. The number excludes any delegation and reservation, that is, includes only final assignments for individual organizations.
During the last twelve months (from April 1994 to March 1995), JPNIC assigned 2,706 class C network numbers for 929 applications which include 259 postal ones. JPNIC has not handled any assignment of class B network number in this period.
JPNIC has started to delegate a block of class C network numbers to its member NSPs based on CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) since December 1993. Currently 13 NSPs are assigning from their delegated CIDR blocks and handling applications. In case of requesting less than or equal to 2 class C network numbers, it is justifiable without consultation with JPNIC. According to Figure 2, the ratio of the NSP's assignment is fairly low now but we expect that will be major. At present JPNIC's policy on the delegation is first to allocate 64 class C network numbers and later estimate appropriate size of block according to their real history of assignment. Those NSPs have to send their assignment record to JPNIC as JPNIC does to the upper IR.
JPNIC has published a Japanese translated version of RFC 1466, which defines guidelines for management of IP address space, along with JPNIC's application form written in Japanese. RFC 1597, which describes about address allocation for private Internets, is also translated into Japanese by volunteers and located in the same place. JPNIC suggests an option to use private network numbers.
Currently JPNIC assigns class C network numbers delegated from APNIC for Japan following the criteria written in RFC 1466. However, that task needs a lot of efforts due to these reasons; 1) It needs much corresponding with the applicant because there are very few consultants in Japan who have enough knowledge on current and comming engineering technologies such as CIDR and VLSM (Variable Length Subnet Mask), and 2) Ambiguity of the criteria stated in RFC 1466 also bothers JPNIC's staffs when making a daily decision. Most of the applications JPNIC received fall into exception and thus it disturbs handling assignments as a routine job.
In Japan, many applications have come from users on BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) since the interconnection between BBSs and the Internet started. Applicants are not connected (so they are applying) but can access the Internet through a BBS, so that ratio of postal application is getting decreased. In these days, applications which come via NSPs is increasing.
JPNIC applies for new block of class C network numbers whenever there is a shortage. JPNIC also assign AS numbers which are delegated from formerly InterNIC but currently APNIC.
Generally speaking about the country top-level domain names, there is a wide variation in the structure; some countries have very flat structure and other countries have substantial structure. In the latter countries the second levels are generic categories (such as AC, CO, GO, and OR), or they are based on political geography. The JP domain has both structures; categorized and geographical shown in Figure 3. We introduce the second-level categories in order to make it easy to expand the space under JP in the future.
Figure 3: View of JP Domain Name Structure
(1) JP Domain Structure
Categorized domain names (similar to EDU, COM, etc.) has been introduced since the country top-level domain JP began to be used in October 1988. Since the Internet had been getting much popular even in regional communities and individuals, JPNIC had to introduce the way to make the name space wider. For that purpose, geographical domain names (similar to the US domain described in RFC 1480) have been introduced under the country top-level domain JP as an experimental project since December 1993. Basically individuals can not obtain a categorized JP domain name.
(A) Categorized Domain Name Structure
The definition of categorized structure is
Organization_name.Category.JPwhere the category is one of the following.
AC: Universities or Academic Institutes CO: For-Profit Companies GO: Governmental Organizations OR: Non-Profit Organizations or BBS Services AD: Network Administration Organizations
Like the current policy of the top-level domain EDU, the AC category only includes universities, colleges, and similar organizations. The CO category only includes registered for-profit companies. These restrictions are to avoid that these categories grow too huge like COM faces. Local or regional organizations and individuals are expected to use the geographical naming structure.
In the categorized structure the third-level organization names are kept unique regardless of the second-level categories in order to avoid confusion.
(B) Geographical Domain Name Structure
The basic definition of geographical one is
This kind of domain names is introduced to be assigned for individuals and local organizations like K12 (Kindergarten through 12th Grade) schools. Those organizations and individuals apply their name according to their geographical location.
We are aware of some problems in introducing this structure. One is that geographical domain names tend to be long because there is no standard abbreviation for prefecture and city names like used in the US. Another is to treat collision of names in the same prefecture. There are some cases that a town or city has the same English representation although they differ in Japanese.
There are some exceptions for the large cities defined in the Japanese regulations. These cities are treated as a prefecture in the geographical structure.
There is a few special names, PREF, METRO, CITY, WARD, TOWN, and VILL for the local government. For example, PREF.NARA.JP will be assigned to the Nara prefectural government and then the government will assign sub-domain names to its subsidiary organizations or agencies under it.
An individual have an option to use an NSP dependent domain name assigned by the NSP, fo example, FOO.XXX.OR.JP where FOO is a favorite name and XXX is assigned for a certain NSP. This naming depends on the NSP XXX, but there needs no change if the user moves to another city.
Geographical JP domain structure is under experimentation. We have not decided what kind of special names and sub-structure should be introduced. Each country may have own domain structure depending on their social systems.
(2) Common Restriction under JP
An organization can obtain only one domain name excluding in case of providing network services. We think this would be fairly strict limitation for a company but it is still important to keep it difficult for someone to reserve all popular domain names. Basically the domain name holders can not transfer their domain names to other organization or individuals.
JPNIC has another restriction on obtaining a domain name. Registering the domain name into DNS within a year is required. This rule makes it difficult for someone to keep a favorite domain name unused. Those who failed to connect within a year have to apply the name again, but someone who want to obtain the same name could slip in the gap.
In addition, there are two syntactical restrictions; 1) any domain name starting with digits is not permitted under JP because JPNIC's domain name syntax refers to the suggestion described in RFC 1034, and 2) the third-level organization names in the categorized hierarchy must be more than or equal to 3-letter long in order to avoid excessive conflicts.
(3) Assignment History
Figure 4 shows the accumulative number of JP domain names assigned and connected to the Internet, which grows exponentially. In the recent years, the CO category grows rapidly. Up to now, geographical domain names are little but we think this naming structure will become vital to the success of regional and local Internet activities.
Figure 4: Number of JP Domains Connected
The domestic DNS hierarchy has information on hosts and domains connected within Japan, while the international one has only information on hosts and domains which can be directly reached internationally. Because the domestic hierarchy does not include information on hosts and domains outside Japan, the hosts having international connectivity have to use another hierarchy in which the domestic and the international ones are merged. This is quite a complicated scheme.
This ad hoc solution was vital for the early days of Japanese Internet to grow. Recently, many commercial NSPs appears and most of them provide both domestic and overseas connectivity. A problem is also reported that the information on the domestic root servers is leaked out to the Internet. This would have made the outer world confused. Consequently, we have decided to stop using the domestic hierarchy.
JPNIC is also in charge of arranging secondary servers for the JP domain and its sub-domains. In cooperation with member NSPs, JPNIC arranges those secondary servers considering the network topologies.
Large chunks of the address space are delegated to the regional IR, which in turn delegates a part of the space to country IRs. In this way, a hierarchy in the address space is created, which is similar to the hierarchy in the domain name space. According to this hierarchy, the maintenance of the DNS of IN-ADDR.ARPA zones are also delegated. JPNIC is currently maintaining IN-ADDR.ARPA servers of about forty address blocks including that of 133.IN-ADDR.ARPA.
A record is registered into the database whenever an assignment occurs. The record in the database can be updated by sending an update form. An NS record for DNS is set up also by sending the same update form for the JP domain name or the IP network numbers already assigned. All information registered in the database is classified into five categories; domain names, IP network numbers, name server hosts, contact persons, and NSPs. There is also a community category for the purpose of maintaining administrative mailing lists.
JPNIC cooperates with APNIC and InterNIC to keep the database consistent. JPNIC uses an original application form but it is kept convertible to one that APNIC or InterNIC uses. It needs additional fields to describe information in Japanese. Any updates to the records which go to APNIC or InterNIC are forwarded from JPNIC. The users can send an update to JPNIC in JPNIC's form written in Japanese. JPNIC translates it into the form APNIC and InterNIC requesting. JPNIC acts as an window to the major IR function.
The database is currently maintained in simple UNIX files, which are converted into ORACLE DBMS for retrieval through WHOIS.
JPNIC's basic stance is to handle the form automatically as much as possible. For updates, JPNIC provides two windows; one is for an individual applicant and the other for a member NSP. An update sent from the NSP to the latter window is automatically processed to some extent because the NSP is expected to have knowledge on that procedure and wants to get its response quickly.
JPNIC will have to add some charging and billing information into the records if charging on transaction starts.
(1) WHOIS Service
Figure 5 is an example of retrieving the JPNIC network database through WHOIS provided at whois.nic.ad.jp. It is requested in our current specification to be added an ``/e'' option at the end of keyword being searched. If omitting the ``/e'', the output produced includes Japanese characters. A help message in English can be obtained by specifying a keyword ``help/e''. This service can be accessed through an E-Mail interface explained later.
Figure 5: Example of JPNIC WHOIS Retrieval
JPNIC's database is for network operation. It includes ``point of contact'' of the information but is not intented to be a general directory like a white page.
Figure 6 shows an history of accesses of JPNIC WHOIS from January 1993 including one during the JNIC pilot period. The considerable number of accesses from overseas explains that this service takes a part in providing Japanese network information to the whole Internet.
Figure 6: JPNIC WHOIS Access History
In JNIC pilot term, the WHOIS function was implemented in the Perl language. The program employed indexes created word by word in order to look up a certain word even in the middle of item. This development and experience clarified the features required for the WHOIS function.
For more stable and easy operation, we decided to introduce a DBMS for the core of all the JPNIC registration services. As the first step, we developed the JPNIC WHOIS system using a relational DBMS ORACLE running on a NEC's workstation EWS-4800. Using a well-developed DBMS makes it easy to maintain the database and to create an interface using a standard language SQL.
Any optimization on the database structure for the common queries has not yet been done, so it takes considerable time in responding a query. The DBMS does partial string matching for English words but does not yet do that for Japanese words. We are still looking for a DBMS suitable to the IR function.
JPNIC provides a RWHOIS service which forwards a query to the DBMS and also another retrieval serice based on X.500 expermentally.
(2) Document Retrieval
JPNIC provides many documents such as describing application procedures on ftp.nic.ad.jp. Most of those documents are written in Japanese. Some of them are available in English. Some valuable documents are now being translated.
JPNIC begins gathering pointers about network related information such as about NSPs in Japan to provide them in various methods such as WWW. JPNIC's WWW server may be accessed at www.nic.ad.jp.
JPNIC also provides an automatic E-Mail responding service for users who do not have direct IP reachability to the JPNIC service. Documents describing how to obtain IP network numbers and a JP domain name, to register a name server host, to update a record in the database, and to use an E-Mail interface for general documents retrieval are obtained by sending an empty E-Mail to the following addresses respectively.
email@example.com JP domain name firstname.lastname@example.org IP network number email@example.com DNS registration firstname.lastname@example.org Database update email@example.com Document retrieval
A postal service is also available but it needs a lot of human assistance.
In the first 1993 fiscal year (from April 1993 to March 1994) when JPNIC started, the total income, which equals to the total membership fee, is around 140,000 US$ (Note: We calculates as 100 yen equals to approx. US $1 in this paper although the current rate varies.). The next 1994 fiscal year got 320,000 US$. According to the draft budget plan for this 1995 fiscal year, 520,000 US$ is expected as the total membership fee and more than 320,000 US$ as the total handling fee if charging described later comes into operation in this year.
At present, six full-time staffs are working at the JPNIC Secretariat but JPNIC can pay only for four staffs out of six. A few part-time staffs and other volunteers are still working daily. JPNIC is planning to pay for all staffs working in this fiscal year to be stable and to release the volunteers from the daily duties. The Steering Committee members (who are a volunteer) tend to be overloaded due to shortage of manpower.
num. of | annual fee (US$) | num. of clients | academic | other | delegates -------------+------------------+-------- -- 10 2,000 10,000 1 11 -- 20 3,000 15,000 2 21 -- 30 4,000 20,000 2 31 -- 50 5,000 25,000 3 51 -- 70 6,000 30,000 3 71 -- 100 7,000 35,000 3 101 -- 200 8,000 40,000 4 201 -- 300 9,000 45,000 4 301 -- 500 10,000 50,000 5 501 -- 700 11,000 55,000 5 701 -- 1000 12,000 60,000 5Table 2: Current JPNIC membership fee
There are some discussions on the current JPNIC funding policy. The problem of dividing academic networks from others is pointed out since the Internet is widely spreading among academic, commercial, government, local and other kind of organizations, and it is functioning as an important infrastructure. In this situation fairness among these kind of organizations has become a main factor and it seems that the basis for dividing academic and non-academic ones has become less effective since JPNIC was first established.
The problem of increasement of expenses due to increasement of official jobs like assignments and registrations is also pointed out. At present, JPNIC does not charge for registering IP network numbers and a JP domain name. The growth of the Internet has crossed the past prediction in a large way, and as a result those duties are also increasing. In order to maintain stability and scalability for future NIC activities it might be necessary to think in the direction of transforming JPNIC into a legal incorporated organization. For that it is necessary to secure strong financial basis.
In order to solve these problems, JPNIC has set up a working group open to public and this group performs discussions regarding the membership fee and financial basis. Based on these discussions, a new idea on funding was proposed during the last General Meeting in October 1994, and its direction was approved.
There are two alternatives in its charging policy; one is to charge according to space occupied and the other is to recover cost need to handle an application.
The reason why JPNIC was first considering the former choice is that applying some economical pressure seems to be effective in order to save a common and limited resource. According to the proposal, obtaining a JP domain name or IP network numbers needs 100 US$ for each name or number. For example, obtaining 4 class C network numbers needs 400 US$ and a class B network number equivalent to 256 class C network numbers needs 25,600 US$.
However this scheme has been discussed in the working group and modified because charging based on space would have too big influence on the Japanese Internet community. The last report prepared for the comming General Meeting proposes another financing scheme, which says that the one-time handling fee is 200 US$ for obtaining a JP domain name and IP network numbers respectively regardless of its space.
In its operation, the fee reduces to half, that is 100 US$, when the request comes from a member NSP. The reason is that the NSP is expected to explain the procedure and advice if needed, as a proxy of JPNIC. Of course the NSP may recover its cost for handling requests. There is still contract between JPNIC and the NSPs to keep policy and criteria such as in RFC 1466 which JPNIC and the upper authorities have been determined.
We think that JPNIC should delegates much more operations to its member NSPs. Since NSPs are getting to be the first contact when connecting to the Internet, it is desirable for them to open a window for the NIC function.
JPNIC is a non-profit organization, but not registered, which means not incorporated. In Japan it is difficult to be a public non-profit corporation, which has a right as a legal entity. It is required to obtain an admission from some Ministry and to be under its control to certain extent. To make JPNIC more stable, JPNIC is investigating the way to be a legal entity with keeping the current JPNIC's independent activities and relation to the Internet community.
JPNIC may be the first NIC to announce the direction of charging each assignments to support its activities while a similar discussion can be seen at the other NICs. We need a consensus among the global and Japanese Internet community to actually apply this financing policy.
JPNIC allocates roughly up to 10 percent of its budget for supporting APNIC and once APNIC begins charging, we believe that JPNIC will pay. We have been discussing about charging for the IR function and common resources in the Asia Pacific region as well as in Japan. We would like to clarify the way to recover cost and to share the common role in the global Internet.
Thee establishment of country NICs in Asia Pacific countries is important because a country NIC can ensure services of good quality to all users and distribute the workload of APNIC. We would like to promote those activities in the Asia Pacific region, which would lead success of APNIC and the true Global NIC finally. We believe that the upper level NICs success is depend on the lower level NICs and vice-versa.
Mr. Kameyama at Tohoku University and Ms. Inutsuka at Kyushu Sangyo University made great contribution for doing IP network number and JP domain name assignments respectively as a volunteer before Japan NIC established.
Hiroaki Takada is a research associate of Department of Information Science, University of Tokyo. He received his M.S. degree in information science from University of Tokyo in 1988. He has been working for TISN (Todai International Science Network) since 1989 and for establishing Internet connectivity in Japan. He is now the vice-chairman of the steering committee of JPNIC. He is also engaged in various researches of the TRON project. His research interests include real-time operating systems, parallel and distributed computing, and computer networks. He is a member of IEEE, ACM, IPSJ, IEICE, and JSSST.
Masaya Nakayama is Associate Professor of Computer Centre, The University of Tokyo. He received his Ph.D in information engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1989. He is a member of ISOC, ACM and IPSJ. He is interested in information retrieval system architecture at widely distributed environment. He is a member of JPNIC Steering Committee and also the Secretary-General. He helps APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Center) activities as a staff. He is a board member of WIDE project for EDU-WG, and the User Service WG chair at JAIN Consortium. He is also a technical contact of regional/campus networks (TRAIN, UTnet).
Jun Murai has been an associate professor of Keio University since 1990. He received his Ph.D in mathematical engineering from Keio University in 1984. His research focuses on operating systems, computer networks, and computer communication. Dr. Murai was the first person to build a wide area academic computer network in Japan. He first built JUNET, a uucp network, in 1984. He has been leading the WIDE project, a research project on large distributed systems, since 1987 and is building the WIDE internet, an academic IP network in Japan. He is a member of ACM, IEEE, Internet Society, IPSJ, and IEICE.
Information Center (JPNIC) may reached at
c/o Computer Centre, Univ. of Tokyo, Yayoi 2-11-16, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan.