Here’s a glance at five stories about Japan’s digital transformation, which has been considerably hastened by pandemic:

  • The government has decided on the framework and roles of a new agency to be established next September to promote the digitalization of national and local administrative work. The move, which could cut its operating costs by 30% by fiscal 2025, is a top priority under Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The government is aiming to finalize the agency’s blueprint by the end of the year.
  • The nation is set to break with its age-old tradition of requiring citizens to use personal seals to stamp all official documents, scrapping their use in nearly 15,000 administrative processes, Reuters reports. The use of seals will be abolished for all but 83 instances such as automobile registration, affecting transactions carried out by millions of residents every day. Just one thing: A specific timetable has yet to be decided for the phasing-out.
  • The government’s white paper on the economy and finances for fiscal 2020 has called the digitalization effort essential to boosting productivity for future economic growth in the pandemic-driven “new normal.” The paper, released last month, says the economy can return to a “self-sustained growth track” with a highly productive supply system if investments are promoted in information technology, software and human resources.
Hanko seals no longer in use by companies are seen collected at a Tokyo temple for a 'memorial service' in October before being discarded. | KYODO
Hanko seals no longer in use by companies are seen collected at a Tokyo temple for a ‘memorial service’ in October before being discarded. | KYODO
  • The government is considering introducing an artificial intelligence-based big data analysis system developed by a U.S. firm in order to enable speedier policy decisions, Jiji reports. The system — which is used by major U.S. and European financial institutions, and U.S. government organizations such as the CIA, Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services — analyzes data scattered throughout a huge organization in a short period of time.
  • In a bid to make it easier for overseas financial service companies to establish bases in Japan, the Financial Services Agency said on Friday it will set up in January a hub that offers a one-stop service for foreign financiers in English. The center, to be established at the agency, will allow overseas asset management companies, including investment funds, to carry out all necessary administrative procedures in English.