Thursday, August 13, 2020

Japan sets policy promoting digitization of society, remote work

Jul 19. 2020
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By The Japan News

The Cabinet approved Friday four comprehensive plans on measures tackling the novel coronavirus, digitization, decentralization and reforming ways to live and work. The plans promote digitization of the public and private sectors, among other measures, against the backdrop of coronavirus infections.

The government also plans to strengthen disaster prevention and mitigation measures in response to severe torrential rains in Kyushu and other areas.

“We will boldly carry out drastic social change and pave the way for the future in the face of a historic crisis,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a joint meeting of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy and the Council on Investments for the Future on Friday.

The government aims to prevent the spread of infections and promote economic activities at the same time, returning the economy to a growth path led by domestic demand. It plans to compile an action plan to realize a “new normal” amid the pandemic by the end of the year.

Regarding digitization of the public and private sectors, the coming year will be defined as an “intensive reform period.” As for digitization of public administration, the Cabinet Secretariat will be given authority to manage experts and related ministries and agencies. On digital currency managed by central banks, the government will consider using it by cooperating with other countries, while the Bank of Japan will conduct verification tests.

Meanwhile, the government plans to improve its system for assessing coronavirus infections, as concerns about the risk of infections can cause economic stagnation. It will strengthen the testing of people with symptoms, as well as those who are not exhibiting symptoms but have had close contact with infected people, medical workers and hospitalized patients. The government also plans to establish a domestic production system for vaccines and drugs as soon as possible.

Measures to reduce the risks involved in disasters are more thorough in the final plans than in an earlier draft.

“It is an important responsibility of the state to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people,” the comprehensive plans stipulate. “The government will secure necessary and sufficient budget to implement numerical targets systematically from a medium- to long-term perspective.”

The growth strategy action plan calls for the spread of part-time jobs and side jobs as an increasing number of people have become used to working remotely. The government plans to introduce a system under which companies manage the working hours of their employees by, for example, having employees report their hours themselves.

The regulatory reform implementation plan calls for a “radical overhaul” of practices such as preparing and submitting documents and affixing seals, which are currently necessary for administrative procedures. It also called on ministries and agencies to set targets to move administrative procedures online.

To rectify the concentration of workers in Tokyo, the government will promote the use of IT in urban areas, mainly in other major cities and ordinance-designated cities. The basic policy on towns, people and the creation of work calls for the government “to provide strong support to municipalities seeking to lure satellite offices” of companies looking to move or set up their offices in remote areas.Speech

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