Digital Agency
デジタル庁
Dejitaru-chō

The Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho, where the office of the Digital Agency is located.
Agency overview
FormedSeptember 1, 2021 (2021-09-01)[1]
Jurisdiction Japan
HeadquartersTokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho 19th floor, 1-3 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094, Japan
Annual budget¥ 36.8 billion (2021)
Minister responsible
Deputy Ministers responsible
  • Masaki Ōgushi[2], State Minister for Digital
  • Masanao Ozaki[2], Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Digital
Agency executive
  • Takashi Asanuma, Chief Digital Officer
Parent agencyCabinet of Japan
WebsiteOfficial website

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.[1][3] The slogan is “Government as a Startup”.[4]

Overview

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.[5]

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.[5] 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.[6] Ishikura was replaced by Takashi Asanuma.[7]

Main mission

Criticism

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.[8]

On September 24, 2021, Digital Deputy Director General Koichi Akaishi was disciplined for a one-tenth (one month) reduction in salary for receiving excessive entertainment.[citation needed]

Remote work

On 27 August 2022, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida returned his office after he recovered from COVID-19 Omicron variant, 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 (Japanese Prime Minister's office).[9] 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.[9] Japan was criticized as "a digitally underdeveloped country."[9]

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.[10] Many politicians opposed discontinuing their regional hand-carved hanko—a "symbol of Japan".[10] The Hanko is still required to sign a plethora of government documents.[10] Hundreds of government offices claimed abolishing fax machines was impossible thus ministers backed down.[10] Many other countries stopped using fax machines years ago.[10]

Disk storage

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.[11] Kono stated that they plan to change those regulations to online.[11]

Banking

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.[12] 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.[13] As of 2020, cashless payments were 18% according to the Japanese government.[13]

Competitiveness

In 2022, Japan ranks a record low 29th out of 63 countries for global digital competitiveness according to Swiss institute.[14] The country has a shortage of skilled digital workers.[14] Japan ranked 63rd in 4 criteria such as international experience and business agility, but first place in student to teacher ratio.[14]

References

  1. ^ a b c d "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.
  2. ^ a b c "Ministers Profile". Digital Agency of Japan. 12 August 2022. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  3. ^ "New digital agency's move to set up in high-end Tokyo complex sparks controversy". The Mainichi. 2021-06-21. Retrieved 2021-08-24.
  4. ^ a b "Digital Agency Office Work Introduction Pamphlet 2021 Edition" (PDF). Digital Agency (in preparation) (in Japanese). 2021-06-04. Retrieved 2021-08-25. same as below
  5. ^ a b "Japan launches Digital Agency to push ahead with long-overdue reforms". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2021-09-08. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  6. ^ "Japan's new digital chief to resign over health issues". Reuters. 2022-04-23. Retrieved 2022-04-24.
  7. ^ "デジタル庁事務方トップに浅沼尚氏 石倉氏後任、同庁CDO". 毎日新聞 (in Japanese). Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Japan's digital minister treated to expensive meals by NTT". The Japan Times. 2021-09-27. Retrieved 2012-10-13.
  9. ^ a b c "Rigid rules at Japan PM's office require officials to come in person for 'online' meetings". Mainichi Daily News. August 24, 2022. Archived from the original on August 24, 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e 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.
  11. ^ a b "Digital Minister declares a war on floppy discs". Twitter. August 31, 2022. Archived from the original on September 10, 2022.
  12. ^ Jamie Moreno (October 21, 2020). "Banking digitalisation in Japan: The time is now". Archived from the original on September 27, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Katharina Buchholz (August 10, 2020). "Where Cash is Still King". Archived from the original on September 27, 2022. Retrieved September 27, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ a b c "Japan ranks record low 29th for global digital competitiveness". Kyodo News. October 9, 2022. Archived from the original on October 8, 2022.