Japan PM Suga aims to get flagship digital agency running by autumn 2021: Nikkei | Reuters

Newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will work to get his flagship new digital technology agency running by autumn 2021, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Friday, a sign the project is among the top priorities in his reform agenda.

Creating an agency to accelerate the digitalisation of Japan’s outdated government administration has been a key pledge of Suga, who was elected as premier on Wednesday.

The agency will spearhead efforts to make administrative work more IT-friendly, and speed up the process by consolidating various functions spread across many ministries, the paper said.

To prepare for the launch of the new agency, the government will create a committee that may be headed by an expert from the private sector, the paper said without citing sources.

Suga’s administration plans to submit a bill for creating the agency in an ordinary parliament session that convenes in January next year, the Nikkei said.

In Japan, less than 12% of administrative work is transacted online, according to think tank Japan Research Institute.

While Tokyo has made “digital transformation” its main policy plank this year, the switch has proved difficult due partly to Japan’s vertically structured bureaucracy that hampers efforts to use common platforms for administrative work.

Suga has pledged to make sweeping changes to overcome the digital woes, which were blamed for delaying delivery of cash payouts to help citizens weather the coronavirus pandemic. Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Chris Reese and Lincoln Feast.

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