THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
October 20, 2020 at 18:06 JST
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, left, and Takuya Hirai, state minister in charge of digital transformation, pose for a photo at a ceremony to launch an office for preparing bills related to digital transformation on Sept. 30 in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. (Pool)
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s new digital policy team has begun discussions about setting up an agency for digital transformation, one of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s pet projects.
The policy team, known as the headquarters for promoting digitization, started delegating work at its first meeting on Oct. 19 held at party headquarters and set a brisk pace for coming up with its initial proposals.
It is headed by LDP policy chief Hakubun Shimomura and chaired by Akira Amari, the chairman of the LDP’s Research Commission on the Tax System.
Discussions are focused on whether the proposed new agency can have adequate oversight over other government ministries and agencies to fulfill its role of cutting across traditional jurisdictional lines.
Takuya Hirai, state minister in charge of digital transformation, wants to see it modeled after the Reconstruction Agency, which was not established under the Cabinet Secretariat or Cabinet Office, but directly under the Cabinet. The head of the Reconstruction Agency is also a state minister.
When speaking to reporters, Amari acknowledged that he is willing to support that idea, but said having another agency such as the Reconstruction Agency “won’t be realized without the digital agency having considerable power.”
The policy team set up five subcommittees to tackle different policy areas: cybersecurity; the My Number identification system; the information systems of national and local governments; utilizing data; and digital policy research.
The data utilization subcommittee will focus on ways to protect personal information, while the digital policy research subcommittee will coordinate with the private sector on establishing the new digital agency.
The policy team plans to compile its interim proposals as early as mid-November.
Amari said he expects about 10 bills associated with establishing the agency to be put forward during next year’s ordinary Diet session.
(This article was written by Keishi Nishimura and Natsuki Okamura.)
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