On Wednesday, Japan launched a new Digital Agency with the hope to bring a much-needed overhaul to antiquated systems that have had their shortcomings highlighted by the pandemic. Japan tried to give its government services and record-keeping a technological upgrade.
Currently, the country has old-fashioned paperwork for its people to apply for government services, and the central and local government offices use different systems for storing and managing the data which lacks compatibility.
During the Pandemic, the lack of digitalization for the government services became the major problem that caused delay and mishandling of applications for financial subsidies and support. It also slowed down the medical data transmission needed for the virus measures.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s political priority has been to promote digitalization to push administrative reforms since he took office last September. Digital Transformation Minister Takuya Hirai will head the agency with 600 staff that includes 200 people hired from the private sector and others transferred from other ministries.
It aims to digitize 31 areas for administrative procedures such as elderly care and childrearing as they standardize different systems used by municipalities within five years. They also plan to promote the use of a 12-digit ‘My Number’ assigned to all individuals. That will be issued as a multi-purpose identification card.