Japan’s digital minister wants to pay back three months’ salary in order to take responsibility for a series of mistakes in one of the country’s key digitization projects. Taro Kono made the announcement after the growing number of difficulties became a problem for the entire government. The background is the introduction of a personal and individual identification number (個人番号, or “My Number”), which is to be used for paying taxes, social benefits and other purposes. Several cases had recently surfaced in which such IDs were assigned to the wrong people, which is why criticism of the project and the entire government had become louder and louder.
Error linking to existing documents
As the Japan Times writes, the minister’s announcement was preceded by several leaks and registration errors, which eventually even caused the government’s approval ratings to drop. According to this, 940 IDs were assigned to false bank accounts, 8000 to false health insurance certificates, 3000 to false disability cards and in 100 cases information on pensions was linked to false numbers. After the problems were noticed in February, an unknown official did not disclose them for months. Taro Kono has said that there will be no consequences for the person and instead he wants to punish himself for the trouble caused.
The ID is a central digitization project in Japan, where most administrative procedures still have to be dealt with in person, explains the online magazine Rest of World. The project has been in progress since 2015, but so far no government has been able to make it a success. Taro Kono was then believed to be capable of this after he managed to speed up the distribution of the vaccine against Covid-19. Before announcing that he wanted to repay parts of his salary, he announced an investigation by the competent authority and promised that every single registration would be checked. However, it remains unclear where the necessary resources are to come from.
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