The digital transformation reaches Japan
While digital transformation is sweeping around the world, even the most developed countries are not ready to fundamentally change their established processes. This includes Japan, which is known for its conservatism. However, even here they are beginning to gradually modernize outdated processes.
For example, the Japanese government issued a decree that allows citizens not to use floppy disks and disks when making requests to government agencies. For a long time, the country had had a law that prohibited the transfer of personal information via the Internet but only on physical media. However, such changes are not to everyone’s liking – officials are in no hurry to give up floppy disks, even in Tokyo are still using these outdated media, and in the provinces, the situation is even more complicated.
Since 2015, every Japanese person in the country has been assigned a personal digital number consisting of 12 digits to identify his or her identity. Through this code, the country’s citizens can use various government services. However, any transfer of such personal data has a certain procedure, the mechanisms of which are long outdated. According to The Register, Japanese legislation includes about 1.9 thousand rules that regulate the process of exchanging information with government agencies, and most of them only allow the use of floppy disks and CDs. The Ministry of Digital Development believes that these regulations are long overdue for revision and transition to more flexible, modern information exchange systems.
It should be noted that this is not the first attempt for Japan to transform the system. In 2021, the prime minister planned to reduce the use of stamps and fax machines in the country. However, he did not have time to implement the plan – he was removed from his post.
The new Minister of Digital Development also intends to transform the conservative system. According to the agency’s plan, the country wants to conduct a technical literacy program for officials, as well as the modernization of IT infrastructure in public institutions. However, one of the main reasons for the slowdown of digital progress in Japan is the reluctance of people themselves to switch to new systems. In Tokyo, for example, only last year government agencies began reducing the use of disks and introducing communication with the population via the Internet. All this was accompanied by indignation and dissatisfaction on the part of officials.
And Japan is not alone in its conservatism. For example, until 2021, government websites in South Korea were opened only on the Internet Explorer browser and were written on outdated technology with a low level of security. U.S. tax authorities still manually process huge amounts of paper tax returns, even though a variety of text-recognition systems exist.