Japan aims to switch some government computers to the free Linux operating system and reduce its dependence on Microsoft Windows.
Japan is drawing up guidelines for its ministries recommending open source software such as Linux as an "important option" in government procurement, said an official at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
"This is not intended to exclude a particular software nor to recommend a particular one but it reflects the recent development of open source software as reliable systems," the official said.
"Currently our procurement of software is dominated by commercial software," the majority of which is Windows, the official added.
Linux was developed first by Linus Torvalds who made the software freely available to the public and later gained the support of major companies such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
Although Windows is used on about 90 percent of the world's personal computers, some governments as well as large organizations have switched to the free Linux system or have threatened to do so to get discounts from Microsoft.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun business daily reported that Japan sees the use of Linux as a way of lowering procurement costs and bolstering its defenses against cyber-attacks.
Separately, Japan, China and South Korea agreed earlier this year to jointly develop a new computer operating system based on Linux as an alternative to the dominant Windows, the official said.
"Apart from the procurement issue, this project is intended to develop an operating system that supports languages that have Chinese characters," the official said.