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2021/03/29 07:13:10 digitalization

The reason why Japan was defeated by India and China due to digitalization. What is the difference exposed in the new corona?

The reason why Japan was defeated by India and China due to digitalization. What is the difference exposed in the new corona?


"Emerging countries" is a hint to overcome the delay in digitization of Japan. It is said that digital technology that confronts the corona wreck is implemented there through trial and error.

Why was the 100,000 yen benefit delayed so much?


Why did the contact confirmation app "COCOA" have a series of problems?

Why do teleworking employees have to go to work to pick up stamps?

The new Corona highlights the delay in digitization in Japan. From the government to the business scene, there are endless voices of dissatisfaction.

The hint to overcome this situation may be in "emerging countries". It is said that digital technology that confronts the corona wreck is implemented there through trial and error.

Interview with Asei Ito, an associate professor at the Institute of Social Sciences, the University of Tokyo, who is the author of "Digitalizing Emerging Countries" (Chuko Shinsho), which considers cutting-edge technologies implemented in society in emerging countries, and is also an expert in Chinese economy. It was.

Asei Ito, Associate Professor, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo
Fumiya Takahashi
Asei Ito, Associate Professor, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo
■ "Digitalization of the South for the South"
"It is useful for grasping close contacts without recording location information or personal name."

The contact confirmation app, COCOA, was such a touch. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (at that time) and Professor Shinya Yamanaka (Kyoto Univ.) Also called for the use, and as of the end of February, the number of downloads exceeded 25 million.


However, in February 2021, it was discovered that the notification function was not working on the smartphone of Google's OS "Android" for more than 4 months. Although the source code was released on "Github" as of November, it was overlooked.

"It wasn't a good app."

Takuya Hirai, the Minister of Digital Reform, who plays the role of the flag of the "Digital Agency," cut it off. A month later, it turned out that both iOS and Android had neglected to support the latest specifications.

The cover image of the smartphone app "COCOA" that informs contact with people infected with the new coronavirus and the downtown area at night.
Jiji Press
The cover image of the smartphone app "COCOA" that informs contact with people infected with the new coronavirus and the downtown area at night.
The delay in digitization at the administrative level is remarkable. The uniform payment of 100,000 yen in cash was delayed, and there were complaints from the field about the system "Harsis" for local governments that tried to digitize infected person information.

How was overseas?

Aki Ito, an associate professor at the Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo, points out that digital technology has been used not only in developed countries but also in "emerging countries." (For convenience, non-OECD countries are classified as emerging countries)

For example, India. Utilizing the personal identification number system, commonly known as "Adar," which was popular among the people, cash was distributed to poor farmers. In India, there was a problem of "hollowing out" in the process of distributing benefits, but by combining biometric information such as fingerprints, irises, and facial photographs with digital technology, it has become possible to provide direct benefits to the individual.

A woman who registers fingerprint information in Adar
Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU / AFP via Getty Images
A woman who registers fingerprint information in Adar
Also, in China, the "health code" of smartphones has become a social infrastructure. The three colors of red, yellow, and green indicate the risk of infection, and are essential for entering and exiting commercial facilities. Giant IT companies from China such as "Alibaba" and "Tencent" were involved in the development.

Such a technology is called "Corona Tech". However, according to Mr. Ito, these are not new inventions, but the result of utilizing what was originally prepared.

"In addition to developed countries such as Berlin and Silicon Valley, there are also human resources who use digital technology in Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai. Technical information is also shared, and there is a large technological gap between developed and emerging countries. It's quite different from the time of (*). If there are engineers and there are conditions that can implement the policy, I think it clearly showed the fact that digitalization is possible even in emerging countries. "

The North-South problem is a phenomenon that has been pointed out since the 1960s, and refers to the occurrence of large disparities in economic and technological capabilities between the poor countries on the south side of the map and the rich countries on the north side.

The "southern" countries that were previously responsible for production and subcontracting for developed countries. However, a different phenomenon was occurring in the digital field. Before the corona epidemic.

In India, in 2009, Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of the local IT company Infosys, was appointed as the Secretary of the Unique Identification Number Agency to promote "Adar".

Mr. Nilekani will work with engineers who were also active in Silicon Valley to promote the establishment of Adar. There is also data that 95% of adults registered as of December 2019, before the global epidemic of corona.

"It is symbolic that local engineers had already started digitizing their own country, not subcontractors such as the United States. In terms of both human resources and business concept, not for developed countries, but for the south," "Digitalization" was working, "Ito points out.

■ I'm doing it in the next country, not
What can Japan learn from the digital technology of these emerging countries? It does not seem realistic to "transplant" the experience of emerging countries as it is.

"Cashless payments have become widespread in Japan, and" delivery "has become widespread in home delivery. We will incorporate it into the context of Japan while referring to it. I think there are references to the United States and Europe. In addition, we will broaden our horizons to social implementation in emerging countries. I think that should be done at least. "

But there are doubts. India's "Adar" requires registration of biometric information such as fingerprints and irises, and China's "health code" is based on the premise that the authorities are aware of Shinkansen and airplane usage records.

Yunnan Health Code
From Weibo, Yunnan Fire Department
Yunnan Health Code
Efficient systems and protection of personal information may not be compatible. Is it suitable for Japanese society?

"In Japan, there is a loose principle that there is a strong sense of resistance to diversion of personal information to others. It is important not to conflict with that. China seems to be a little closer to Japan, even if it is a special case. The situation is quite different even in Taiwan.

The resident registration number of South Korea was maintained under the Park Chung-hee administration, that is, the military government. The security threat of North Korea was just around the corner. In Taiwan, martial law was laid down until 1987, and it was inevitable to "manage" the people.

It's not "you're doing it in a neighboring country or region," but it has a historical context. We should think about what we can do to improve convenience in Japan's privacy consciousness. "

■ It is not a "country that will support you"
In order for Japan to get hints from emerging countries, Mr. Ito dares to call for "information gathering using limbs."

"There are more and more approaches that go diagonally above the imagination. Even with the same Uber (vehicle dispatch service), three-wheeled motorcycles are coming in India. If you really think that it will come, it really comes. I can see it coming. "Oh, that uncle." The digital society is being implemented in the developing site where dust is flying. I think it's an exciting story (laughs). "

On top of that, the existing overseas bases should be used effectively.

"Japanese companies have many overseas bases in Asia, but what I feel during my visit is that they are bases for existing businesses such as industrialization and trade. The power to integrate with Japan and turn it into a business opportunity is still weak.

In the case of diplomatic missions abroad such as embassies and consulates, the main task is to protect Japanese nationals, but I think we should add a new role of collecting information as emerging countries digitize. "

The delay in digitization of developed countries and Japan, which was unintentionally exposed by the corona epidemic. It is no exaggeration to say that the time has come to learn from the countries that were once "supported". Mr. Ito concluded this.

"To see the reality. It means that we should learn a lot from overseas. Overseas is not only developed countries. It is not just to look at emerging countries, but when we broaden our horizons, we will go to the area called" South ". I'm trying to open my eyes a lot. I'm going to write it boldly. "