Hitachi Ltd. said Monday it will abolish the use of traditional hanko seals for its internal paperwork by March 2022 and reduce use of paper copies by 70 percent by next March to promote digitalization in the company.
Hanko are widely used in Japan for endorsing contracts, business transactions and various administrative procedures. The measures are also intended to encourage Hitachi employees to work remotely, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and contribute to environmental conservation.
The infrastructure and information technology giant said it would make internal decision procedures accessible online and also see whether it can use the online system with its business partners outside the conglomerate.
Hitachi’s initiative is in line with the government’s efforts to promote digitalization in Japan, as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who launched his Cabinet last month, has instructed ministers and government officials to do away with the outdated hanko tradition.
Many Japanese organizations adopt the practice of passing on documents with a hanko stamp to signal approval by officials involved. The custom has drawn criticism for necessitating face-to-face interaction that risks spreading the coronavirus.
As part of the measures, Hitachi plans to slash the number of sheets of A4-size paper used in the company. In fiscal 2019, it used 700 million sheets.
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