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Japan Business Federation proposes digitizing all public, private admin procedures

This file photo shows the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Hiroyuki Takazoe)

TOKYO -- The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) released on April 4 a proposal to a government committee reviewing various regulations hindering digitization, with a request to revise 87 items, including introducing electronic applications for driver's license changes and family registration certificates.

    Japan's largest business lobby called for bold reforms to eliminate paper documents for all procedures in the public and private sectors and to switch to electronic applications.

    The government's provisional council on digital administrative reform was established in November 2021 at the behest of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. According to the Digital Agency, the next three years will be positioned as a "period of intensive reform" and an action plan will be finalized by the end of May.

    Keidanren conducted a survey of its member companies on administrative and corporate improvements, which resulted in 780 requests from about 200 companies and organizations. The most common item to be improved, at 300, was making administrative and other procedures electronic. Many sought the elimination of seals and signatures on documents, which are deeply prevalent in government offices, and some complained about having to go to the counter and wait in line amid an uncertain outlook for the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Specifically, Keidanren requested that the procedures for obtaining documents issued by public offices, such as garage certificates, registrations related to businesses and real estate, and "single certificates," used in activities to find a marriage partner, be conducted online. The group also criticized the current situation, saying that the digitalization of rural areas in particular is seriously lagging behind and "placing an excessive burden on people and seriously damaging the efficiency and productivity of society as a whole."

    An official from Keidanren pointed out that the government "has lagged behind other countries" despite Japan's long-standing goal of becoming the world's leading information technology nation. The official added that the government "must break through without compromise or it will repeat its past failures" and urged it to take drastic measures.

    At a news conference on April 4, Keidanren Chairman Masakazu Tokura, a member of the government committee, said, "I would like to urge the government to respond quickly and with strong resolve. We need to tackle this issue with the mindset that this is our last chance."

    (Japanese original by Hajime Nakatsugawa, Business News Department)

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