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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

October 7, 2020 (AM)

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Simultaneous interpretation services for this video are provided by a third party.

Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

REPORTER: I would like to ask a question concerning government councils and meetings. Some media outlets have reported that the Government will reduce the functions of and reorganize the Council on Investments for the Future, which was established by the Abe administration, into the Council on Growth Strategy, and put the Digital Government Ministers’ Meeting (led by the Chief Cabinet Secretary) into the Prime Minister’s watch after formulating a data strategy, in the field of digital transformation which the Government is advancing. Could you please tell us the progress of such considerations?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: To begin with, taking the opportunity of the inauguration of the Suga administration, the Government has been reviewing a variety of councils and meetings. Against this backdrop, we are reviewing our framework and directions for implementing the Growth Strategy and advancing digital transformation, in a manner consistent with the fundamental roles given to the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, which was held yesterday. As stipulated by law, the Council is a forum to discuss the Cabinet’s basic policy on its economic and fiscal policy and the control tower of economic and fiscal policy to advance macroeconomic management such as balancing infectious disease control and economic activities, and discussing the basic directions on reforms in which multiple ministries are involved and priority issues. With respect to the growth strategy, which you referred to, the Government also considers it necessary to fully engage in discussions to materialize the Growth Strategy towards the sustainable growth of the Japanese economy. We are now discussing how to advance those discussions. Regarding digital transformation, we established the Office for Preparing Digital Transformation Promotion Bills on September 30 and have started reviews towards the formulation of a basic policy aiming at the end of the year. We are currently conducting reviews on relevant issues from the perspective of how to advance discussions to best advance digitization in the Government, including the format of the Digital Government Ministers’ Meeting. We intend to expeditiously advance these reviews and start discussions at relevant fora.
REPORTER: I have a question regarding the Council for Promotion of Regulatory Reform. Prime Minister Suga just issued an instruction to swiftly compile a policy to review the entirety of administrative procedures on the premise of discontinuing the use of physical seals in principle. As this covers the entirety of procedures, the review work will be extremely broad in scope. In addition, Minister Kono mentioned reviewing the use of faxes after reviewing the use of seals. Could you tell us if the Government intends to carry out such reviews?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: At today’s meeting of the Council for Promotion of Regulatory Reform, the Prime Minister issued an instruction to compile expeditiously a review policy on the entirety of administrative procedures, on the premise of discontinuing the use of physical seals in principle. With respect to the discontinuation of the use of physical seals in principle, the Cabinet Office has requested the ministries and agencies on October 9 to submit their respective review policy. Under the leadership of Minister Kono, the Government as a whole will take swift action. Regarding facsimiles, which you have just pointed out, this will be a focus of the review from the perspective of improving service for citizens through advancing the digitization of the Government. I would say that anything could be a focus of such reviews. As for when such work will be completed, we do not have a concrete timeframe for that. In any case, since we have mentioned that we will address this matter with a sense of urgency, we intend to advance our reviews expeditiously.
REPORTER: […] I have a question regarding policies for digital transformation. It has been reported that the Government will formulate a data strategy as early as next year as a growth strategy in a digitized society. Could you please tell us the objective of this strategy and the timeframe?
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY KATO: To date, there has been much feedback on Japan’s initiatives on digital transformation. Furthermore, when responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak, I too felt that data was not collected and utilized sufficiently and smooth delivery of government services was hindered when I served as Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare. The Government as a whole also shared the same reflection. We are beginning to carry out reviews for formulating a data strategy to establish a foundation for the utilization of data. Regarding the content of the data strategy, we envision, for example, the development of foundational data in our society, which is referenced frequently in various areas, such as information on incorporation or land, and rules which facilitate the smooth flow of data covering various areas. These reforms, as does the previous point, require a sense of urgency. Regarding a strategy for that, we intend to advance relevant works so as to compile a broad framework within this year.

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