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PM Kishida Wraps Up Session with New Push for Digitalization

On the last day of the parliamentary session, PM Fumio Kishida gave hints about his policies going forward on digitalization, green technology, and more.



Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida wrapped up this parliamentary session by reiterating his determination to push forward on digitalization. His comments came amid rising opposition to implementing the social security My Number Card system.

"Every country in the world is reconfiguring its government to deal with a new age, characterized by declining births, decarbonization, and a changing security environment," explained Kishida. 

He spoke at a press conference he called on June 21. It was the day of the last session of the Japanese parliament, the National Diet. 

The prime minister reported that the Diet had passed 97% of the bills the government had proposed. That is, 58 out of 60 bills were approved, including the proposed defense budget and legislation on immigration reform.  

Transforming Society

Focusing on recapping the first half of the 150-days-long parliamentary session, the prime minister reflected that two key priorities of his administration were Green Transformation (GX) and Digital Transformation (DX). 

"In this session, we passed two bills for an investment of 150 trillion JPY in Green Transformation," said Kishida. The investment amounts to a total estimated $1 trillion USD. 

In addition to investment in hydrogen, biofuel, and fusion energy development, the prime minister also pointed to Japanese technology in fields such as semiconductors and AI. It is necessary, he said, to "set up the necessary funds to compete on the world stage." 

Without repeating specifics, the prime minister also pointed toward his policies aimed at gender empowerment, financial incentives for families, and support for the elderly.

My Number Card (© Sankei)

Problems with My Number Card Continue

To begin with, however, Kishida led his press conference with a firm pitch for digitalization. This is despite the fact that the government has been broadly criticized recently for missteps in the My Number Card system. 

My Number Card is being connected with other government services, such as the healthcare system. According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, there have been hundreds of cases of mistaken identification and mixed information. In some cases at hospitals, for example, records associated with a card are those of a different person. 


A committee is being set up by the government to look into the My Number Card data security problems. This has a measure of urgency. The card is scheduled to be linked with the Japanese health insurance system in the fall of 2024. 

Kishida addressed critics by specifying that the government would first concentrate on centralizing essential information. For example, ensuring name and date of birth are accurate before considering further steps. In the meantime, his administration will launch a full inquiry into the recent mistakes. This will be carried out with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.  

"We take the My Number Card problems very seriously," said Kishida. "To implement these changes, public trust is essential. In order to dispel the concerns of the public, I have decided to take the same level of preparedness as in the case of COVID-19," he added. 

Explaining the My Number Card

Japan's My Number Card is a chip-based card that identifies the person on the card with information normally recorded under a variety of government entities. For example, the national health insurance system and the national pension system. It is part of a move to centralize information beyond local government boundaries. Once fully operational, the annually issued national health card would become obsolete. 

Yet, its implementation has been bumpy. Basically, it is still a voluntary system, and concerns about data security have generated public opposition. A whopping 77% of survey respondents said they were uneasy about the increased use of the My Number Card. That is according to a FNN- Sankei poll published on June 19

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the prime minister's press conference on June 21 (© Sankei).

A Busy Diplomatic Schedule Ahead

With the summer months coming up, Kishida hinted at a busy schedule. He shared that he is invited to and plans to attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit on July 11 and 12

Also, NATO has talked about opening an office in Tokyo. It would recognize their current close cooperation and Japan's increasingly important geopolitical role in the Indo-Pacific region.

In his opening statement, Kishida also expressed his renewed interest in having a summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. The prime minister would like to see the issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens resolved quickly. In a follow-up question from reporters, the prime minister refrained from disclosing any information on the prospect of a Japan-North Korean summit. His comments, however, further fueled rumors that low-level communications may have started between the countries.

Regarding relations with China, the prime minister said no plans were in the works to visit President Xi Jinping. However, he did not rule out a future meeting. He confirmed the wish to collaborate with China in a variety of fields, "using the momentum obtained in the Japan-China summit last November [2022]."

Mr Kishida also pointed toward other appointments on the diplomatic calendar in the coming autumn. One of those is the G20 Summit in India. 


Author: Arielle Busetto


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