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LDP lawmakers criticize gov't move to ditch Japanese seal custom

The Liberal Democratic Party headquarters is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- A group of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislators met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato at the prime minister's office on Oct. 8, claiming that the government's plan to do away with hanko seals was taking it too far.

    Following the proposal to abolish the usage of official seals in administrative procedures set forth by administrative reform minister Taro Kono, legislators forming the "parliamentary group to protect the system and culture of seals in Japan" submitted a written request to Kato asking the government to gain sufficient understanding from the general public and seal industries about the move.

    The parliamentary group claimed that "confidence in the custom of affixing seals on documents is wavering due to a hasty and excessive move to abolish hanko seals."

    House of Representatives member Minoru Kiuchi, the acting chairman of the parliamentary group, expressed understanding toward abolishing the usage of seals for administrative procedures, but also said, "There has been a misunderstanding that all hanko seals will be gotten rid of."

    "The aim is to abolish unnecessary usage of seals. At the least, we are not thinking of losing the system of registered seals entirely," said Kato.

    Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki of the central Japan prefecture of Yamanashi, an area that produces many of Japan's hanko seals, also attended the meeting. The parliamentary group and Nagasaki subsequently met with LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai at the party's headquarters. Nikai expressed his approval of the written request, and told the group to "collect signatures and firmly defy the move."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Tanabe and Minami Nomaguchi, Political News Department)

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