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Japan Local Govts Advancing "Hanko"-Free Procedures

Japan Local Govts Advancing "Hanko"-Free Procedures

   Tokyo, Oct. 13 (Jiji Press)--Local governments in Japan are accelerating efforts to scrap the use of "hanko" seals in line with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's focus on digitalizing administrative procedures.
   A number of local heads have expressed their backing for the initiative by the Suga administration, which was inaugurated about a month ago. Meanwhile, leaders of communities hosting hanko manufacturers are increasingly frustrated at the trend, saying that seals should not be viewed as a symbolic obstacle to digitalization.
   As of the end of September, the city government of Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, made hanko use unnecessary for some 3,800 types of administrative procedure documents.
   With its mayor, Soichiro Takashima, spearheading the reform efforts, the city, as of the March 2020 end of fiscal 2019, processed 73.7 pct of its administrative work online and abolished the obligation to put a seal on documents other than for some 900 types for which hanko use is required under rules by the central or Fukuoka prefectural governments.
   A corporate employee in her 30s who visited the office of the city's Chuo Ward called the moves "helpful," as she had to revisit the office before as she forgot to bring her hanko.

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