The European Commission's IPv6 task force and the IPv6 promotion council of Japan said in a joint statement that they would co-operate "to foster promotion and deployment and garner support for the new-generation Internet protocol".
"I believe that Japan and the EU will jointly achieve success in advancing IPv6 by sharing our deployment experiences," said professor Jun Murai, chairman of the IPv6 promotion council of Japan.
Erkki Liikanen, European commissioner for enterprise and the information society, said IPv6 development is now embarking on its second phase. This will involve the commission helping to set up IPv6 task forces at national and regional levels, as well as developing further international co-operation agreements. He added that there is enough political will among governments in EU countries to deploy the new protocol.
"I am convinced the successful completion of this next phase will contribute significantly to the deployment of IPv6 throughout Europe by 2005," Liikanen said.
The most immediate problem the protocol will tackle is the lack of available Internet addresses for as more and more people use online devices. IPv4, which remains the predominant protocol today, was designed primarily for the needs of computers. Ipv6 makes it easier for everything from household appliances to mobile phones to connect to the Internet.
IPv6 supports new features and enhances others, including larger address space, end-to-end connectivity, "plug & play" auto-configuration, built-in security, mobility, multicast, anycast and larger data packets.