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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 12:21 GMT
Japanese viewers get digital TV
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi launched the system
Japan has become the latest country to join the digital television revolution after a high-profile launch by the prime minister on Monday.

Junichiro Koizumi led a televised ceremony intended to bring high-quality signals and more channels to viewers - and boost the country's economy.

The UK, US, Sweden, Australia and South Korea already have the technology.

In Japan, it can reach three cities but the government wants to make it available to the whole country by 2006.

Mr Koizumi launched the network from a stage, standing in front of giant television screens.

Stimulate economy

"As we mark 50 years since the start of analogue television broadcasting in 1953, I believe we are at a historic moment as television evolves one step further," he said.

The government has spent 180bn yen ($1.6bn) on the technology.

But they hope it will lead to 200 trillion yen ($1.8 trillion) being pumped into the economy as viewers buy new equipment and broadcasters invest in new services.

Digital signals are considered better than analogue because they can carry more information, allowing better quality and more channels.

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