Lampooning the Agency of the Digital Agency
Japanese Twitter users hold a weenie roast
September 1, 2021 marked what should have been an auspicious occasion for the Japanese government, and indeed is it being welcomed by the public as a step in the right direction. Rightfully so though, there are plenty of concerns, which I will get to throughout the post.
The Japanese culture is one that relies on the tried and true, often shunning new ideas and things that involves deviating from that which is established. In terms of government agencies, this reliance on the same ole, same ole saves civil servants from wandering deep into the frightening labyrinth of errors. And there is nothing more embarrassing than errors in the government sector.
The aim of the Digital Agency, run by Minister Takuya Hirai, is "reforming the culture of administration" within government services and recordkeeping. Currently, the government relies heavily on paperwork and a system of "stamps" or "chops" which finds its roots with the Emperor nearly 2000 years ago, and became ubiquitous among the public around 1870. Paperwork leaves an obvious trail that can be meticulously backtracked and usually, retrieved with relative ease. Stamps are registered with the government and seen as a highly effective way of proving one's identity.
For years though, there have been a small vocal group of citizens and politicians alike who have advocated that this all change. Resistance has been heavy though, because, again, if it's not broken, don't fix it. And things would have remained this way for a while longer if it hadn't been for one thing... the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic brought many people to their knees. Though there was no official lockdown in Japan, businesses have suffered tremendously -- so much that many would rather risk infection than suffer the financial losses which would force them to shut their doors forever. When the Japanese government said it understood and would help, it soon found itself overwhelmed while the public and the relief-seekers found themselves seriously underwhelmed.
Enter the Digital Agency, ready to take on the challenge of the 21st century! ...Followed hotly by the amusing antics of Japanese Twitter users who are having none of it. Armed with the hashtag #ThisIsTheDigitalAgency (#これがデジタル庁だ) Twittersphere has been lampooning the agency before it has even had a chance to get off the ground.
Without further ado... ten funny (translated) tweets lampooning the Digital Agency.
"I'd like to see the first minister of the Digital Agency take his job this seriously." (Iwasaki, CEO of Meditech, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)
I think the implication here is not that Minister Hirai should run an illegal organ farm out of Osaka, but rather that he should go full cyborg like CEO Iwasaki.
"While the public expects the Digital Agency to be the female runner, the truth is, the agency is the projected image on the screen."
Here in lies the crux of the problem with the Japanese public's view of the Digital Agency. Being highly private people, they really don't appreciate their personal information being digitized. Many fear data leaks or just plain misuse of the information. While others believe that even if their information is digitized, they won't have access to it or be able to use it in any meaningful way due to the way privacy laws are written.
"This is really high-tech. My wife is always very interested in this kind of thing. Oh, are you are the new director!?"
Columbo was extremely popular in Japan. This Twitter user is definitely revealing his age though. Come to think of it, so am I.
"Data is stored on perforated paper tape. As your skill increases, you can read without using a machine like Captain Kiriyama (of the Ultra Garrison, Ultraseven)."
To be honest, and I really hate to say it, I personally wouldn't be surprised if this is how data was saved. Despite Japan's reputation as a high-tech country, most folks are simple end-users uninterested in the details of tech and the Devil within. They love pretty gadgets of convenience (again, as long as they don't change things much).
"I'm not a number, I'm a free man!" (The Prisoner)
Pretty clear cut how this user feels.
"The reality of the situation." (Namihei Isono of Sazae-san)
A long running program in Japan, the world of Sazae-san hasn't been upgraded much. It's a bit of a retro-now Japan -- a Japan on a different timeline, holding dear values from the bygone Showa Era. An anomaly that most Japanese people just accept because they both secretly admire the Isono family and understand how well the plot works without today's tech in the show.
"I'll unplug you if you get tiresome." (Comedy program Shōten -- Punchline -- stars rakugo storytellers in an improvisational comedy style that's been around longer than Whose Line Is It Anyway? The show continued through the pandemic using digital monitors of the comedians broadcasting from separate rooms.)
One of the single best half-hour programs in Japan with fans across all generations, Shōten was quick to upgrade to meet the broadcasting demands of the pandemic, offering the public something to look forward to on Sunday evenings when all else looked bleak.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the minister." (Max Headroom)
Seriously though, who wouldn't want this guy as their next Digital Agency minister? He can be everywhere at once, he learns from his mistakes, he cracks a good joke...
Soundwave from the Transformers.
I only wish this gif had sound. Maybe someone could hook it up with the opening from "Axel F" like this gem? ↓
"Whenever I serve the minister coffee, he's harasses me. 'It's lukewarm! There's too much sugar!'" (Ultraseven)
Great googly moogly! Some poor cogs never catch a break. This guy needs LESS coffee.
Those were just ten of the more humorous #これがデジタル庁だ hashtag posts. I hope you enjoyed them. Click link for more. And for making it all the way to the bottom, here's my personal fave in the form of the lead image.
This dude is my IT spirit animal.