politics

Digital minister aims to drag Japan out of analog doldrums

33 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
Login to comment

*In a YouTube video in September, he urged people to get a My Number Card, a digital identity card for Japanese citizens and residents that they can use for online government applications and link to a driver’s license, library card or online banking.*

This is the key paragraph of the whole article. The government wants everything linked to a central point so they can collect data on everything we do, and tax it and monitor dissent. This will even easier if they proceed with a central bank digital currency (CBDC) and phase out physical cash.

And for a library card? Geez.... Kono's an even worse shill than I thought.

0 ( +15 / -15 )

Wait wait, so you mean there's a better system to store 1.44 megabytes of data than a floppy disk?

2 ( +19 / -17 )

And then there are classes conducted for how to use "SMART" Phones.

My understanding, I might be wrong, but things will work in Japan only if there is a printed manual on "how to".

I remember the store clerk going page after page to complete the process of Duty Free - I could have finished a cup of hot coffee while patiently waiting her to finish reading and following the manual.

If these things are made digital/smart, I guess they might be super scared to press "next" button for every step they do.

1 ( +13 / -12 )

Japan ranked 28th among 64 nations in digital competitiveness in 2021

How is this possible? There are still offices using floppy disks! I hate to see what the "lower" ranked countries are using!

0 ( +15 / -15 )

I didn’t know about this library card one.

I am curious if my local municipality libraries are even equipped to handle a My Numb card. Can I keep my current library card ids, and they somehow will link it to my My Numb card? Hmmm

Anyway - Kono-san for next LDP leader.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Japan ranked 28th among 64 nations in digital competitiveness in 2021

How is this possible? There are still offices using floppy disks!

I guess it depends on how it is measured. For example, I think there's a big difference between offices and manufacturing facilities in Japan. The IMD study covers a broad range of factors. Japan ranks quite high in some of them, for example in robot distribution.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

It's not just about digital transformation, there also lies the issue of how we use the technology itself. If we use the technology we have inefficiently and continue pass these methods down without fixing them, then the benefits of transforming to a digital society will have half the benefits it could have potentially.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Good luck with that.

Digital hanko?

I think not.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Yawn. Only heard this every year for the last 20 years. Yawn.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

*In a YouTube video in September, he urged people to get a My Number Card, a digital identity card for Japanese citizens and residents that they can use for online government applications and link to a driver’s license, library card or online banking.**

To link my ID, personal info and online banking info all together in one My Number card? Sure, LOL

2 ( +4 / -2 )

But Digital Minister Taro Kono has a reputation for no-nonsense action and for defying vested interests in high places.

Oh dear...

"for no-nonsense action" as when he failed as the "vaccine tsar"?

"or defying vested interests in high places" as when he wanted to force Kasumigaseki to sunset fax-machines and...failed yet again?

Kono, a former foreign minister and defense minister, has flaunted his digital savvy for years.

Kono is just trending because he can make use of Youtube or Twitter which (arguably) gives him a "certain edge" as compared to the other oyajis in Japan....which says a lot more about Japan and J-politicians than about Kono...

“I have no intention of playing coordinator,” he told reporters in a small briefing that was, aptly, conducted online Friday.

Please no! We already saw him "coordinating" the vaccine rollout.

My Number started back in...2002 as the Juminkihonbango ("Juki") (住民基本番号) which spectacularly failed after a few years (only a very low amount in the population actually registered for it). Then it got replaced by...My Number...which got stuck after a few years with...an even lower amount of the population actually initially registering for it.

It's only when the J-gov stared to spaff billions in form of "MyNumber points" that millions registered: for the money, not for the card! The card pretty much remains unused in millions of drawers through the country which is not exactly surprising as there is nothing that you can or have to actually use MyNumber for (i.e. replacements exist)

The discussion around the "Digital Transformation"-angle only started a few years ago, over one and a half decade after Juki started (and failed) and years after MyNumber started and got stuck in the mud, making you wonder: if not initially about "Digital Transformation" than what were Juki and MyNumber all about? Well, I guess "hankos" then...( and no, I am not even being sarcastic here)

And as fxgai mentioned: yes, I believe that Kono is on the top of the list of candidates to replace Kishida...(sigh) We (and the country) are not out of the woods...(SIGH)

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

At least now there is a Digital Minister who actually uses a computer. That is a great improvement.

I am amazed at how often my browsers, both Chrome and Firefox, warn me about continuing to a Japanese site because it is insecure, and this includes government sites. Don't they know that most search engines downgrade http sites and upgrade encrypted https sites? I suppose they are still using Internet Explorer and Windows XP.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I love the whole MyNumber thing. So convenient now to get official documents when I need them. No longer have to trudge all the way to city hall; can use any convenience store instead. Also, I already pay all my taxes properly, so I don’t see how having this card matters. In fact, I can do my taxes all online now. Got ¥15,000 just for linking to my bank account and opting to use the MyNumber card as a health insurance card. Free money is always good.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

I got the IC My Number card and it was useless. The kokumin pension online site promised it would make procedures streamlined. When I tried to register my card, all I got was "error" with no explanation given.

Later on, I tried to use it to get my residency certificate at a combini, another promised benefit. Again only got "you cannot use this card," with message telling me to ask the local authority. So, a trip to city hall and a long wait to be served. The lady said it was because my card had already expired (after a year since I got it). To renew it, she gave me paper forms to fill out with a pen (of my personal information they already have on record) and to wait a month or so. I said, "no thanks. I'm thru with this charade."

The card expires when your gaijin card does. Then you must go to city hall for the paperwork and then the waiting for your paperwork to clear. The card is advertised as a paperless way of enhancing convenience, like not having to go to city hall for procedures. I don't need to explain the surreal absurdity of it all.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

Now why do that and cause more confusion and pain, leave it as is and everyone is happy, Fax machines are still in use at the city office where I live, LOL

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

At last they found someone who knows how to use a computer!

0 ( +5 / -5 )

If Japan wants people to get and use the MyNumber Card, they must be serious benefits. For example, you can already use the card as your medical ID, allowing the office to connect all your medical records. The problem is they charge extra if you use the card. How about offering the user 100 Yen cash for using the card? To get the cards into people's hands, they should streamline the application process down to 1 day. And issue the cards to every student when they become legal (able to sign contracts). And, make the renewal process a one-stop 10-minute process with ID verification at your city hall.

Japan should also keep the elderly population in mind. Not every elderly person can make the "digital transition," so a system to accommodate them is needed.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

A bank won't accept my signature if there's a microscopic deviation from their photocopy of it. Hanko is going nowhere.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I love the whole MyNumber thing. So convenient now to get official documents when I need them. No longer have to trudge all the way to city hall; can use any convenience store instead. Also, I already pay all my taxes properly, so I don’t see how having this card matters. In fact, I can do my taxes all online now. Got ¥15,000 just for linking to my bank account and opting to use the MyNumber card as a health insurance card. Free money is always good.

Just imagine NOT leaving your house to get things done?

Maybe one day…

0 ( +4 / -4 )

More useless bureaucracy

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Hold your horses.

Shouldn't he be referred to as Kono Taro?

That was one of his go-getting projects, wasn't it?

Meanwhile,JP debit card systems crash over middle names confusion,and UQ mobile systems operate during daylight hours only.

No fax given

2 ( +8 / -6 )

So no hanko craftspeople, no paper stores, no kanji written by hand, no brushes, no group stapling, etc. All so Japan can become as digitally insecure as the rest of the world. The first few years of the change will be a huge score for hackers since digital protection will be slow to catch up. Sigh, more progress....

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Fax machines really, neither of my sons have ever used one, One works for an investment bank the other is a electrical project manager they are 41 and 39 years old. Email has been king for years and years.

I do all my government, local council and utility bills online and have done for years, my car tax and insurance is done online only old people use the telephone. I buy most items online hence why the high street shops have mostly disappeared.

Older people complain about the number of actual bank branches that have closed but here in the UK the vast majority of people do online banking either on PC's or tablets and smartphones. I myself never carry any physical money as everywhere takes debit cards or NFC payment on smartphones and due to Covid physical money is very much in decline.

The first time I visited Japan I was amazed how far behind they were, as for the USA being number 1 I can't believe it as they still use those antique cheque's.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Digital is inherently less secure than analogue. And it is quite difficult for Russian gangs to hack fax machines. People want the government to be able to monitor every aspect of their lives digitally a whole lot less than they did a few years ago, when they had not experienced lockdowns, movement restrictions and bans on serving alcohol. People now distrust and even actively hate their governments far more now.

Despite writing software since the 80s, having seen how governments use tech as a tool for surveillance and manipulation, how bad customer service becomes when you remove people from it, and how poor most tech systems are, I am really warming to analogue.

Japan has a lot of elderly people that will never switch to digital. It would be wrong (and should be illegal) to lock them out of shopping or other services that go 'app only' to save cash.

He has his work cut out.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

If Japan wants people to get and use the MyNumber Card, they must be serious benefits. For example, you can already use the card as your medical ID, allowing the office to connect all your medical records. The problem is they charge extra if you use the card. How about offering the user 100 Yen cash for using the card? To get the cards into people's hands, they should streamline the application process down to 1 day. And issue the cards to every student when they become legal (able to sign contracts). And, make the renewal process a one-stop 10-minute process with ID verification at your city hall.

They were offering 20,000 in points, that you could use with any card like edy or pay pay. Same as cash, BUT a royal pain in the arse to apply for!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Talk is cheap.

I worked on a large healthcare company where the back office financial systems were outdated and complex and onto a single integrated cloud-based financials system.

It took us 10 years. It's one company.

It saved the company millions of dollars with computerized soft copy reports than hard paper copies, which are available if needed.

It takes time and life becomes easier.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

*Japan ranked 28th among 64 nations in digital competitiveness in 2021, little changed from five years before, according to a study by IMD, a Swiss-based independent academic organization, which looked at how well equipped nations are to encourage technological development and to leverage them for the future. The U.S. was No. 1, China No. 15.*

According to this piece, something did change...Japan has been falling down that very ranking since 2018...

https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/6c68cb9447162e01027ed2478d0f40811a760635

Love when the announcer mentions "use and analysis of big data", as in Japan the J-gov was caught pulling its governmental stats out of thin air for over more than a decade...

@Jind

Exactly!

I've worked for different major (and global) foreign and Japanese companies all my life and witnessed how long (in years) changing / rolling out systems take.

The J-gov is a nation-wide entity with how many ministries and agencies, how many regional entities/localities/cities all at different level of use and understanding of different systems with how many hundred of thousands of users who are also at different level of user understanding and knowledge?

Even with a "serious" attempt at doing it, we're in for at least a full decade to get "somewhere". Not mentioning that after all that time, we will only have hit (at best!) the 2022 point in time...with the newer edge of technology already having moved beyond that.

To get as close to the technological present point in time, (my own take is that) Japan will most likely need between close to 15 to 20 years to close the gap and be able to be in a situation where we can quickly react to changes in tech. This is assuming, that they are serious about it and frankly, looking at the MyNumber-thingamabob and the なんちゃって so-called "Digital" Agency they are pushing, it's far from it and we are just continuing to waste time...

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

A lot of foreigners coming to Japan get shocked when they can’t use debit or credit here.

Taking cash for payment is still the way to go in Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

In 2018, the minister in charge of cybersecurity, Yoshitaka Sakurada, became a target of ridicule when he didn’t know what a USB port was.

Oh it was much worse than THAT. He admitted that he had never used, and did not know how to use, a computer.

The politician tapped to help Japan keep pace with the digital age has his work cut out for him.

Ya think?? That's putting it MILDLY....

During the coronavirus pandemic, when remote working became widespread around the world, Japanese realized how far behind they had fallen, Kono said.

Deja Vu. The pandemic and remote working are the Black Ships of today. Let's hope that the Japanese learn their lesson the same way they did back then...

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Japan ranked 28th among 64 nations in digital competitiveness in 2021, 

I'm relieved and impressed. I would have thought they would be ranked lower than that.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Kono may actually be able to rock the boat, but as the skeptics have pointed out, when Japan tries to rock the boat, it's trying to rock a ship that sank a decade or more back. I couldn't believe it when I went to City Hall to get my MyNumber card and the clerk, incredibly proud, pointed to the visible IC chip and said, "Look here, see? This is a card with an actual IC chip in it! No more need for magnetic strips!" I was like, really? even bank cards here have been using IC chips for a while now, among other things. Then, of course, he asked for my stamp to receive the card, and put it in a plastic sleeve with a piece of tape that covers the number, which of course is printed on the card.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The practice of a good respectful culture is important, classical living doesn't require the use of new digital technology, some new technology is for better or worst, and it will take time to learn it and get use to it, learning is boring and difficult, and people learn at different pace, we need to respect that. If a group of people is advance in digital technology that doesn't mean they are better. they could better or worst, because too much of new technology complicates the simplicity of good classical living.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No one will ever completely or successfully beat analogue processes. Latest in cases of earthquakes, floods, electricity outages or some of those hacking attempts, you can throw your card readers and data outsourced on database servers just right away into the garbage can. Often it doesn’t even need incidents or catastrophic situations to recognize that it finally won’t or can’t work correctly. But hankos, real cash and pen and paper will still do fine in any situation. I’m not against that digitalization attempts and many ideas are technologically interesting, but the point is, it first has to work analogically and everything else like those digital versions of administrative processes can then be kind of a redundant and nice to have extension.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites