Arab News Japan
Japan’s administrative reform minister KONO Taro is taking on his new role with the aim to eliminate the fax machine and hanko personal seals in the county’s municipal work.
Under Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide’s new administration, a shift towards digitization is one of the more popular pledges.
Kono said the elimination of the hanko seal, which is a customized stamp used on behalf of an individual or company, will aid in the removal of fax machines in municipal offices.
“To be honest, I don’t think there are many administrative procedures that actually need printing out paper and faxing,” Kono told Japanese media on Friday.
“Why do we need to print out paper? In many cases, that’s simply because the hanko stamp is required. So, if we can put a stop to that culture, it will naturally obviate the need for printouts and faxing,” he said.
Hanko, also known as inkan, requires people to manually stamp it onto their documents. The practice was especially criticized during the coronavirus pandemic, when many workers were forced to go into the workplace to seal paperwork.
After being appointed the reform minister, Kono took to his Twitter account and website to announce the launch of an anti-red tape hotline, in which he asked the public to share their experiences with bureaucratic inefficiency.
Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi axed on Friday the requirement for hanko on some paperwork, including the form for paternal leave.
Koizumi told press that the ministry has a special hanko seal, which only the minister is permitted to use. “My staff sometimes come up to my room just so they can ask me to stamp documents,” he said. “It is just too inefficient.”