When police agencies in all parts of Japan still use “manual calculation” statistics and manual input methods, which are also used by many organs of the Cabinet and local administration.
On February 17, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiro Kan confirmed the previous statement of the Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Labour, that the country’s coronavirus epidemic has “he has been collecting data by hand since the outbreak”.
As soon as the news came out, many Japanese netizens were stunned.
“Unintentional Stone” stirs up thousands of waves
The shocking news came from an “unintentional stone” thrown by Kanako O Tsuji, a backbencher of the opposition party.
On February 17, the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives of Japan held a regular meeting to discuss issues related to the budget. During the discussion, Kanako Otsuji, a member of the opposition party, asked Director of the Health Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Tokushi Shibayashi: How to count the number of COVID-19 patients in the country?
As a current member of Parliament who is not very old but has rich political experience, Kanako Otsuji has changed his party twice, failed in many elections, and has served as a member of Osaka Prefecture, a senator and a representative of Parliament. She also often raises difficult topics in congressional sessions.
Relatively speaking, the transactional question raised this time seems to be quite “harmless to people and animals”, but unexpectedly it leads to an astonishing answer.
Masabayashi said that after 12:00 every night, the outsourcing company entrusted by the Ministry of Health, Labour, Labour and Welfare will look up the coronavirus data from the official website of the local government in Japan, “see it with your eyes”, and then “calculate” the number of confirmed patients nationwide.
The director later added that the number of people who died from the novel coronavirus and other relevant information were also calculated “in the same way”.
Japan has always been one of the advocates of a series of office informatization concepts. Just on January 19, Japan also announced in a high-profile official that it would promote the use of nucleic acid test robots before the opening of the Olympic Games, which can complete the whole process from testing, printing test reports to uploading test results in 80 minutes.
If the epidemic statistics work of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is still “basically calculated by hand”, even if there are “advanced terminals” such as nucleic acid test robots, they are bound to be tied to the whole chain of backward epidemic prevention system and cannot play their due “combat effectiveness”.
In this regard, not only did opposition parliamentarians question it on the spot because of their strangeness, but also many Japanese netizens expressed dissatisfaction after the news came out.
Some Japanese netizens joked, “Do you still need to draw the word ‘zheng’ on the paper when counting?” “Is Japan still in the Edo era (referring to before the Meiji Restoration in 1868)?”
Japanese police agencies still use “hand calculation” to calculate crime statistics.
Speaking of which, “hand calculation” is not uncommon in many fields in Japan.
When police agencies in Japan statistics crime data, “manual calculation” statistics and manual input methods are still widely used to this day, and many cabinets and local administrations are also used to this.
Therefore, although Japan advocated “paperless office” at an early age, it is called “the more paperless paper, the more paper you use”. Although many institutions have realized the vertical and horizontal network transmission of data, they often specialize in a simple and tedious “text travel”.
The office equipment and hardware used by many famous Japanese enterprises also seem to lag behind, and the configuration of “cold weapons” such as calculators is very common. It has been found that Japan is one of the most popular and used white-collar workers in the world.
In November 2015, a British media published an article pointing out that the process of office informatization in Japan is very lagging behind, and the office habits of sending letters, faxes and even hand-written faxes are still common. In 2020, the statistics of the Ministry of General Affairs of Japan showed that the proportion of enterprises using fax machines as the main contact method was still as high as 95%.
Last May, when the outside world questioned whether Tokyo, Japan’s “slow notification speed of the epidemic” was “intentionally tampering with the Olympics”, a person familiar with the matter revealed that “in fact, fax machines are not enough”.
The “significant improvement” in Tokyo is only an emergency budget and the acquisition of a fax machine.
Conservative culture refuses to update the system
Regarding the problem of “office informatization lagging” in Japan, Japanese experts analyzed that there were 4.2 million companies in Japan at that time, of which 99.7% were small and medium-sized companies. The managers of these enterprises were generally aged and conservative, and they were very terribly terribly about office costs.
Even in government agencies, there is a general conservative culture. In many institutions, senior managers often refuse to update the system on the grounds that “old systems are reliable” and “information technology will reveal company secrets”.
Some experts believe that the Japanese work long hours, but “non-manufacturing productivity is at the bottom of the OECD countries”. On the other side of manpower and working hours accumulation, naturally, office informatization is stagnant.
Ford, the author of Robot Rising, believes that Japan’s workplace is fiercely competitive and people generally worry about being replaced by “machines”, which also makes the workplace generally resist office informatization.
To some extent, Japan is a society with too many program sleeves. For example, the customary “hand-held culture” agreed in the workplace, and the deep-rooted “seal tradition” that several cabinets have tried to eliminate, have been accumulated from generation to generation.
Fax machines or manual calculations are not necessarily irreplaceable, but changing the “rule sleeve” is also very uncomfortable for them.
In fact, the aging of “hardware” is not a unique problem in Japan. Many old stock exchanges in Europe and the United States still used antique gestures until the beginning of the 21st century; some old industrialized countries and cities have still been helpless about cobweb-like routes…
Japan’s “coronavirus statistics are all calculated by hand”, which is “unimaginable” for many people who don’t know, but for those who know it, it is “don’t blame it”.