Twenty years after digital reform, the Japanese government still revolves around paper documents


Sina science and technology news, Beijing time on July 24 evening news, according to Reuters reports, 20 years ago, Japan made an ambitious digital plan. Twenty years later, the sudden outbreak of the epidemic exposed a serious lack of technical level in the government system: all departments remained in the tradition of paper documents. Experts say this reduces government efficiency.
Although Tokyo has adopted “digital transformation” as its main policy agenda this year, the transformation is not easy because officials from different government departments are still unable to participate in teleconferences together, and government management is rarely completed online.
Analysts say the government’s lack of digitalization will reduce the impetus for digital transformation in the private sector, thus affecting Japan’s efforts to increase productivity.
“The government’s lack of digital investment has hindered productivity and efficiency in the private sector,” said Takuya Hoshino, senior economist at the first life institute
In its mid year policy strategy, the Japanese government promised to accelerate the digital reform of its backward administration. Because of the backward level of digitization, cash reimbursement, which aims to help people tide over the pandemic, has not been issued in time.
Many problems actually stem from the fact that Japanese bureaucrats are used to using paper documents, and only official seals are used to approve documents.
“Paper documents and official seals are still very common. Many of the politicians I deal with also prefer face-to-face meetings, “said an anonymous government official.
Japan’s vertically structured bureaucracy further hinders digital transformation. For example, each department and local government have developed their own computer systems that are incompatible with each other.
Currently, each department is working with different vendors to develop their own LAN networks, said an official in the cabinet office responsible for it strategy. Due to different online security policies, it is difficult to hold conference calls among departments.
According to the Japan Institute, less than 12% of administrative work in Japan is done online.
In a report released in July last year, the government regulatory reform group estimated that without digital transformation, the government would work as long as 323 million hours a year, and the cost of converting human resources would be close to $8 billion.
Japan’s image as a leading high-tech country in the world has also collapsed due to the lack of digitalization. In fact, as the world’s third-largest economy, Japan’s digital competitiveness ranks 23rd among 63 countries, lagging behind Asian countries such as Singapore, South Korea and China.
According to the latest OECD digital economy outlook report, in terms of online processes, Japan ranks at the bottom of 31 countries, with only 5.4% of its citizens using digital applications in public offices, far lower than Denmark, Estonia and Iceland, with 70% of the latter.
Seiji Kihara, now the ruling party’s deputy policy officer, was formerly finance minister. Twenty years ago, he said, young officials were holding a pile of documents and looking for their superiors to sign and seal.
“Now, it’s still the same,” he said. (tour)