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Taro Kono, A Minister Against Bureaucracy (And Faxes)

The current head of Administrative Reform, a candidate to lead Japan in the future, intends to eliminate the traditional personal stamps

Shinzo Abes resignation at the end of August due to his health problems thwarted many plans Among them those of his succession at the head of Japan

The unexpected announcement cut the progression of the then Defense Minister Taro Kono who was increasingly popular in the polls Given the circumstances the candidate chose to reserve himself for a more propitious moment and not appear in the primaries of the Liberal Democratic Party PLD in which Yoshihide Suga prevailed

Under the new leadership Kono changed portfolios to Administrative Reform Despite the humor with which he lavishes on social networks where he has recently joked with a parallel life as a Manchester City player the politician takes his role very seriously So much so that he has already declared his first two enemies

Kono has struck at two of the symbols of the Japanese bureaucracy fax machines and hanko or personal stamps

The latter less common in the West contain the name of their bearer company or individual and are used as proof of authentication by way of signature on all types of documents

This practice was widely criticized during the worst days of the pandemic as without the corresponding hanko blow thousands of procedures were paralyzed or worse still many employees were forced to travel to their workplaces to prevent this from happening

The combination of both tools fax machines and personal stamps provides feedback and explains the difficulty of speeding up procedures and reducing paper consumption within Japanese public institutions

To be honest I dont think there are too many administrative processes that actually require printing and faxing Kono told a regular press conference earlier this month Why do we need to print paper Most of the time just because the hanko needs to be stamped If we can end that culture we will naturally obviate the need to print and fax

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Fax machines still have a deep foothold in the Japanese professional world today According to figures from the Information Technology Cooperative more than 95 of the countrys businesses still use one

In comparison the percentage has fallen at a much faster rate in the domestic sphere and today it is down to 34 according to a survey carried out by the ministry in 2018

I want to end the culture of stamping the hanko just for stamping it said the minister Digital however also has its drawbacks The ministry made an area of its website available to citizens where they could propose examples of inefficient bureaucratic issues that they would like to see resolved

The servers ended up crashing after receiving thousands of messages Kono despite everything remains unavailable to discouragement I will make my way he sentenced

That same drive prevents him from being ruled out of the race for the post of prime minister Although there is room for political maneuvering Sugas time is in principle limited to a single year the one remaining for Abe

New internal elections in the PLD should be held in September next year followed by national elections no later than October Everything indicates that Kono having gotten rid of personal stamps and fax machines will be ready this time

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