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Open data refers to publicized data that is freely available and accessible by anyone and can be reused or redistributed. As requirements for being "open data," the Japanese government has defined two criteria: (1) the data format must be machine-readable, and (2) the data should be published under a usage rule that allows secondary use without requiring a lot of manpower.

Utilization of open data is expected to promote information sharing among different areas and make work and operations more efficient and sophisticated. In Japan, the Great East Japan Earthquake resulted in attention being drawn to the importance of "horizontal" information sharing among various fields. Endeavors have been made since the summer of 2012 to promote utilization of open data, and the Japanese government established "DATA.GO.JP," a data catalog website, in December 2013. Presently, investigations of technical standards and awareness programs are under way for popularizing the use of open data.

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