Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is counting on digitalization of government being one of the legacies of his tenure, but the pandemic is proving to be a huge obstacle to getting started. Nonetheless, here’s a five-point look at some of what is — or should be — happening:
- Suga said last month that the government will aim to integrate the My Number social security and tax ID card with driver’s licenses by the end of fiscal 2024, two years earlier than planned. It also wants to enable the card’s functions to be used via smartphone by fiscal 2022, a move the government hopes will increase take-up of the unpopular card.
- Highlighting the nation’s digital lag with much of the rest of the world, less than 1% of Japanese IT experts work in the public sector, far lower than in the United States, where the figure is over 10%, a recent government white paper showed. Also, in the U.S. and Germany, over 60% of IT professionals work in non-IT sectors, whereas in Japan less than 30% do, starving these areas of tech knowhow, the paper said.
- Like it or not, the trade in our personal data is probably here to stay. Japan is well-placed to be a leader in data trading, but technical hurdles would need to be overcome and mindsets changed, writes Jonathan Soble. In conversation with experts on the issue as part of the Great Reset series, Soble and guests tackle the challenges and possibilities of dealing with all that data.
- For a deep dive into the issues surrounding digitization in Japan, API fellow Jun Mukoyama has written a three-part series of commentaries, covering the scale of the reform task ahead, the balancing act required for the planned digital agency, and the need to carry the digitization mantra beyond government to the rest of Japan’s famously fax-friendly society.
- On the subject of ancient tech, the death of hanko culture has been greatly exaggerated. Hanko — personal stamps — have been used in Japan for over a millennium, but the practice came under scrutiny this year as workers were forced to come to offices during the first state of emergency to make paperwork official. While cheap hanko may be ditched for electronic signatures, the top end of the market is likely to endure, writes Osamu Tsukimori.