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Japan’s digital reform bills clear Lower House

Tokyo, April 6 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s House of Representatives passed on Tuesday a set of bills regarding digital reform, a key policy of the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

 

The five bills, including one to establish a new government agency in charge of accelerating digitalization of administrative procedures, were approved at a plenary meeting of the lower chamber of the Diet, the country’s parliament, by a majority vote, with support mainly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, its Komeito ally and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party).

 

Meeting later on Tuesday, Diet affairs chiefs for the House of Councillors at the LDP and the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan agreed to launch debates on the bills at the Upper House on April 14.

 

In talks with reporters after the meeting, Shoji Namba, the CDP’s Diet affairs head in the Upper House, showed the party’s intention to urge the ruling bloc to secure enough time for deliberations on the bills at the chamber. “The Upper House will likely debate the bills until after the end of the Golden Week holidays” through early May, he said.  

 

The government-sponsored bills are expected to be enacted during the ongoing regular Diet session. However, the government’s initial plan of putting them into law during this month is likely to be pushed back as the Upper House is currently busy handling other bills. Their enactment is now expected to come in May.

 

Of the four bills other than the digital agency bill, one is to define the principles of a digital society and another to unify rules over personal information protection and abolish the use of personal seals in administrative procedures. The remaining two bills are for linking My Numbers, used for social security and taxation identification, to people’s bank accounts.

 

Also on Tuesday, the Lower House began deliberations on a different government bill to unify core systems used by local governments.

 

“The central government is ready to give appropriate advice and financial aid to local governments to help them take steps for smoothly moving toward standardization,” internal affairs minister Ryota Takeda said during debates on the bill at the Lower House plenary meeting.

 

In a press conference the same day, digital reform minister Takuya Hirai said that the government will hire 35 people for the digital agency, including private-sector information technology engineers, ahead of its planned launch in September.

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