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Japan is behind the world by at least 20 years when it comes to administrative technology. The shoddy state of the government's digital systems is holding back technological progress.

19 Comments

Yukio Noguchi, author of several books about technology and Japan's economy.

© Bloomberg

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No Suprise there, reflecting the overall shoddy state of Bueuracrats and government in general.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

The shoddy states of the oyagi’s minds are holding back technological progress

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Until about a month ago, the central government health ministry did its daily collection of new coronavirus cases from each prefecture and/or hospital by individual FAX for each patient. That was every day, one fax per new case, sent in and tallied by hand for this nationwide emergency.

Then again, Yoshitaka Sakurada, the former head minister of the government's cyber-security department, didn't actually know how to use a computer or email. (see here: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46222026 ). Fortunately he moved on from that position to take up being an Tokyo Olympic Organizer and in charge of Pachinko Affairs.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

I’d say thirty years, and behind in many other things too.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

The outdated backward thinking of the stodgy oyaji bureaucrats is the root problem.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Agree with all, but I'd say Vince hit the nail right on the head.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

They really do need to improve their knowledge of "itto".

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I was wondering why they were still desperately scrambling to fix the Y2K bug.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Blah blah blah. So what's the problem? The government not throwing enough money at certain industries for their liking? What advantage will my tax money get me if the government has more technology? Software that will automatically penalize me for being one day late on a payment? I think this statement is a great example of how you can get people to cheer to a great sounding empty statement with a whole lot of potential bad behind it. Its like voting machines. Trusting democracy to a machine made by one company and controlled by a handful of engineers and businessmen isn't progress. Its stupid. You trust the vote counting to the eyes and hands of citizens counting paper or democracy is about the last thing you are going to have.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

I think there was a time when hearing prominent people in Japan (and Noguchi is prominent) say that the country was X years behind in some area of public policy or technology served a purpose. It was a kind of psychological trick to motivate people in Japan to work harder towards the goal of "catching up." It didn't even necessarily have to be true.

But I wonder if people in Japan really care that much anymore about being perceived as behind. I just don't sense that pursuing grand national projects in the name of achieving parity with the world's leading powers holds much appeal anymore. Especially considering that the two major national powers (China and the U.S.) are both deeply flawed and dysfunctional societies. The third major power in the world (the European Union), meanwhile, is a supranational organization and not a single country.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan only changes when the people in positions of power decide it's OK to change.

Therefore we have to wait for the septa and octogenarian politicians and company presidents to give the OK, or wait for these people to be replaced by the sexagenarians, who have an opportunity to crawl things forward a decade or so.

What Japan really needs is a social revolution of sorts, whereby the younger generation take up a majority of leadership roles all around the country and drag everything forward into the year 2020.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Hey, this is the land of hankos, The Beatles and The Ventures. Japan has a strong Internet and hardware capability, but an inferiority complex about software.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It’s cause the technology will render a good majority of them redundant. Bureaucracies become entities unto themselves, an inner world of silly walks, inner battles, unspoken realities and comic theatre! But hey, job security is a beautiful thing.

When AI sweeps in watch their whole world change almost overnight. Just a matter of getting the ball rolling. Corona may just be that ball!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Only 20 years?

Sometimes it feels like they're missing a zero in that statement.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Change for change sake is not necessarily a good thing, be careful what you wish for, you might get it!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I agree with Ricky's point about redundancy.

In all levels of govt - local. prefectural & national - the wheels of progress are controlled by outdated bureaucrats who are either ignorant of the levels of technology or know, and hold back advancement with intent to protect their own hides.

What lifetime office worker / bureaucrat with all the perks wants to let go of that. If reform took place huge % of middle ranked staff and above would be obsolete.

On my last trip to Australia, at my local suburban bank, staffed by a handful of people, the teller could cash my ¥into $, and send money to a Japanese account in minutes. The overseas transfer required 1 quick form and it was done. In my city here any cash exchange can only be handled by head office international section and sending money OS involves time and reams.

My wife works in finance and her company requires all digital transactions & business to be also printed and filed - you know just to be sure.

And don't get me started on the "City Hall" control of so much.

People here don't believe when I say there is no general city hall system in Australia. No Almighty power over the plebs system for simple daily activities and requirements.

Administrative technology reform would see a huge increase in the unemployed and no govt wants that thrown at them come election time. So preserve it as it as while allowing a snails pace of change.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Who needs digital anyway? Faxes and hankos have always worked and still work.

At least kanji typewriters seem to have disappeared.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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