NEW JAPAN PM WANTS TO GET RID OF ‘HANKO’
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has instructed his government to draw up plans to stop using "hanko" seals on administrative documents, a tradition that has been criticized as outdated and necessitating face-to-face interaction that risks spreading the coronavirus, Kyodo news agency reported.
The move, part of Suga's push to improve bureaucratic efficiency, is expected to lead to more government services becoming available online. "I want all ministries to compile a comprehensive review of their administrative procedures in the near future," Suga told a meeting of the Council for Promotion of Regulatory Reform, an advisory panel of members from the private sector and academics.
Hanko are widely used in Japan for signing contracts, business transactions and various administrative procedures, including enrolling in the national pension program.
As the seals need to be pressed onto physical copies of documents, they are seen as hindering efforts to maintain social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis. Of the more than 10,000 types of administrative procedures that require hanko, more than 90 percent can be simplified, according to Taro Kono, the minister in charge of administrative reform.