Popular government official Taro Kono has taken up a new mission as the recently appointed Administrative Reform Minister. On September 28th, Kono announced that he would finally put an end to fax machines, excessive paperwork, and hankos in Japan.
During a media conference, Kono told the press he feels that many administrative procedures don’t really need to be printed out and faxed and that it is simply because a hanko seal is required that these processes continue. Last weekend, he announced to his over 2 million Twitter followers that he will be setting up a hotline to take complaints regarding red tape inefficiencies in the workplace. However, the hotline had to be temporarily shut down the next day due to the thousands of messages he received.
Some people in Japan strongly oppose getting rid of hanko and see them as an important part of Japanese culture. Still, Kono has stated that he recognizes their cultural importance and only aims to take them out of official administrative procedures. Despite Minister Kono’s resolve, he could have a long road ahead. According to the Information Technology Cooperative, more than 95% of Japan’s businesses still use fax machines today.