The Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho, where the office of the Digital Agency is located.
|Formed||September 1, 2021|
|Headquarters||Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho 19th floor, 1-3 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094, Japan|
|Annual budget||¥ 36.8 billion (2021)|
|Deputy Ministers responsible|
|Parent agency||Cabinet of Japan|
The Digital Agency (デジタル庁, Dejitaru-chō) is an agency of the Japanese government established on September 1, 2021, aimed at strengthening digitalization in Japan. The slogan is “Government as a Startup”.
Even before the Digital Agency establishment bill was passed, the Cabinet Secretariat's Information Technology (IT) Comprehensive Strategy Office and Social Security and Tax Number System promotion office were active in their respective fields.
The Cabinet of Yoshihide Suga has set up a signboard policy of promoting digitalization by establishing a new Digital Agency and eliminating vertically divided administrative functions.
The Digital Agency is responsible for the IT field for the purpose of promoting IT and DX (digital transformation) of national and local governments. In addition, about 130 out of about 600 employees at the time of inauguration are appointed from the private sector such as IT companies.
Takuya Hirai was appointed as the first Digital Minister, and Yoko Ishikura, an emeritus professor at Hitotsubashi University, was appointed as the first Chief Digital Officer. Karen Makishima was appointed as the Minister in the next cabinet. In April 2022, it was reported that Yoko Ishikura will step down as chief of the Digital Agency due to health issues. Ishikura’s replacement has not yet been selected but the government plans to consider electing someone from the private sector. Ishikura was replaced by Takashi Asanuma.
- National government information system
- Eliminate the harmful effects of vertically divided administration, promote the integration and integration of government information systems, and facilitate cooperation with private sector systems
- Digital infrastructure common to all regions
- standardization of information systems of local governments
- Individual Number (the Social Security and Tax Number System)
- Realization of a society where the people can carry out administrative procedures online in a one-stop manner by utilizing the Individual Number
- The Suga Cabinet is committed to having all citizens possess an Individual Number personal identification card by the end of 2022.
- "Semi-public" field
- Promotion of digitalization in fields closely related to daily life such as medical care, education, and disaster prevention
- Data utilization
- Development of a "base registry" that serves as basic data for society
- Achievement of administrative procedures "once only" (the principle that information once sent does not need to be resent)
Entertainment coverage by NTT presidents
After Takuya Hirai became 1st Digital Minister, it was reported that Hirai was suspected of being entertained by The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) President Jun Sawada twice, on October 2 and December 4, 2020.
In August 2022, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida caught COVID-19 so he worked remotely from the PM's official residence. Kishida took official duties online, but Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and reporters were still required to assemble in person at the Kantei (prime minister's office). This is because they strictly used intranet for security reasons. Thus online meetings via the internet or actual remote work from home was not possible. Japan was criticized as "a digitally underdeveloped country."
Hanko and fax machines
In 2021, ministries were urged to end hanko (signature stamp) requirements for 785 types of procedure, 96% of the total, including tax documents. Many politicians opposed discontinuing their regional hand-carved hanko—a "symbol of Japan". The Hanko is still required to sign a plethora of government documents. Hundreds of government offices claimed abolishing fax machines was impossible thus ministers backed down. Many other countries stopped using fax machines years ago.
On August 31, 2022, Digital Minister Taro Kono tweeted that about 1900 government procedures require the business community to use disk storage to submit applications and other forms. Kono stated that they plan to change those regulations to online.
The digitalization of bank services is slow in Japan due to continued widespread use of cash (over 80% of payments are made in cash), and industry inertia. Japanese banks require customers to visit the bank in person to arrange things. Comparatively in other countries its possible to do such things online and via telephone banking. In 2019, the country's government's target was to increase cashless payments to 40 percent by 2025. As of 2020, cashless payments were 18% according to the Japanese government.
In 2022, Japan ranks a record low 29th out of 63 countries for global digital competitiveness according to Swiss institute. The country has a shortage of skilled digital workers. Japan ranked 63rd in 4 criteria such as international experience and business agility, but first place in student to teacher ratio.
- "Japan launches digital agency to upgrade IT system". NHK WORLD-JAPAN. 2021-09-01. Retrieved 2021-09-01.
Japan launched a new agency on Wednesday to upgrade and overhaul the country's digital systems.
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- McCurry, Justin (6 August 2021). "Japanese fax fans rally to defence of much-maligned machine". The Guardian. Archived from the original on August 13, 2022.
- "Digital Minister declares a war on floppy discs". Twitter. August 31, 2022. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022.
- Jamie Moreno (October 21, 2020). "Banking digitalisation in Japan: The time is now". Archived from the original on September 27, 2022.
- Katharina Buchholz (August 10, 2020). "Where Cash is Still King". Archived from the original on April 18, 2022.
- "Japan ranks record low 29th for global digital competitiveness". Kyodo News. October 9, 2022. Archived from the original on October 8, 2022.
- Digital Agency (in Japanese)
- Global Site of the Digital Agency with information such as origin and the message of the Minister (in English)
- Outline of the Basic Bill on the Formation of a Digital Society, the Bill on the Establishment of the Digital Agency, and bill on the arrangement of related laws for the formation of a digital society (summary information)