Head of Japanese digital agency blames regulation for hindering progress

The minister in charge of Japan’s new digital agency accused decades of conservative regulation of hindering the country’s development and declared that the country’s technological ambitions are being stifled by its “laws, systems and customs.”

Karen Makishima said in an interview with the Financial Times that the country has been too slow to relax the rules on emerging technologies, stifling companies and industries in areas that might have become global leaders.

Officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan also told the Financial Times that the government and corporate departments are increasingly worried that if Japan wants to avoid being left behind forever behind its competitors, Japan will have a “last chance” for fundamental change.

Makishima said that restrictions on new technologies are even more meaningless, because as Japan’s population ages, the available labor will decrease, and technology can save a lot of labor.

“Although Japan has technological capabilities, its rules are not based on it,” Makishima said, adding that although Japan has a reputation for cutting-edge electronics, robotics, and other key technologies, the country is making slow progress in formulating a digital national strategy. .

“In terms of technology, I think Japan has a very high level of ability at the basic level. The problem is that we have not been able to use digital thinking to amplify this ability,” she said.

Makishima pointed out the rules and practices governing the use of drones and sensors, and these technologies can save a lot of manpower. Both technologies can be used to complete low-risk standard inspections of buildings, tunnels, bridges and other projects, but existing rules mean that such tests are invalid unless they are manually confirmed.

“There is naturally a difference in the risk of accidents at the construction site for large-scale projects worth hundreds of millions of yen and projects worth only tens of thousands of yen. However, regardless of the size of the project, the same rules apply today for safety confirmation,” she said.

this The idea of ​​a digital agency It was introduced by the then Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last year to accelerate the use of technology to provide government services. Before Fumio Kishida took over as prime minister, the agency had begun operations in September this year. The agency is scrambling to formulate a series of “digital principles” to transform Japan into a more digital society by the end of the year.

Makishima admitted that many people believe that the institution was established too late and that the country is still struggling to overcome outdated social and economic systems.

She said these shortcomings were exposed in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.An emergency cash distribution plan takes several months to organize because the procedure requires Manual managementDue to the lack of IT infrastructure in schools, students across the country are not prepared for distance learning.

Other members of the Kishida administration also expressed concern about the pace of digital change. Kobayashi TakayukiRecently, there have been reports that the Japanese Minister of Economy and Security stated that Japan needs to speed up the process of possible digital currency issuance.

Makishima stated that this matter is not within the jurisdiction of the digital agency.

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