The COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on one of Japan’s major issues: the particularly slow pace of digitalization in administrative services, exemplified by complicated procedures and slow benefit payments. In response to this situation, the Suga administration made the “realization of a digitalized society” a policy priority and in September 2021, launched Japan’s Digital Agency. Now in the Digital Agency’s second year, Minister Karen Makishima is tasked with sparking Japan’s digital transformation and paving the way for the country’s administrative reform efforts.
The Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) and Asia Program hosted a fireside chat with Minister Makishima, as she discusses plans to advance digitization at the national and local levels to benefit citizens, to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity, and to ensure rural areas benefit from digital advancements. The Minister also addressed how Japan seeks to advance the vision of Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT) as it assumes the presidency of the G7 in 2023 and the implications of these priorities for the US-Japan relationship and international cooperation more broadly.
“The role of the Digital Agency is to realize the kinds of services naturally desired by the people, and make sure everyone can experience the convenience of digitalization by creating a human-friendly digitalized society - wherever they live, wherever they work.”
“Data constitutes one of the most important players of utilization of digital technologies. Data is an engine that leads to socio-economic growth in Japan, in the United States, and in other countries. This is in line with Japan's ambition to eliminate economic and social disparities, and for realizing growth and distribution.”
“We don’t have any borders of nations in cyberspace, so we need collaboration or cooperation with other countries, and of course the United States and Japan are the strongest allies in many ways. So we’ve shared information when we noticed malicious activities in cybersecurity areas, so we will continue to share the information to protect the safe and free cyberspace for all people of the world. And of course with the situation of Ukraine, we understand the importance of cybersecurity more than ever, so these allies are essential.”
"[According to private sector surveys] many high school and junior high school students are dreaming to have jobs relating to digital technologies, or they might be engineers or programmers in the future. We have [an] optimistic view for the future of Japan, and I am very personally happy to see these surveys that show not only boys, but girls are interested in the field of engineering and programming."
"We will achieve an optical fiber household coverage rate of 99.9% by the end of fiscal year 2027. [Currently], the ratio of optical fiber household coverage in Japan is 99.1%, but [the 1%] are the people who struggle to get access. When we leave these issues to the private sectors, they might take more time... so we declare the responsibility of the central government to cover the last 1%."
Science and Technology Innovation Program
The Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) brings foresight to the frontier. Our experts explore emerging technologies through vital conversations, making science policy accessible to everyone. Read more
The Asia Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region. Read more
Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition
The Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition works to shape conversations and inspire meaningful action to strengthen technology, trade, infrastructure, and energy as part of American economic and global leadership that benefits the nation and the world. Read more
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