A Call for 21st Century Government in Japan

Aceface kindly pointed me to this, a scanned pdf of the Japanese-language “Flying Object Information” form, filled out by hand by a Japan bureaucrat. It contains the basic information on the missile that flew over Japan on Sunday, noting where it was spotted (to the west of Akita prefecture) and when and where it left Japan’s territorial sphere. Notice also the painfully low resolution of the scan (200dpi?), such that the font is jagged, and you can see random black dots where the scan was imperfect.

The Japanese government has been doing its best to show the public that it is being diligent and fully in-control of the North Korea missile situation. The day of the launch, news clips showed fresh young agency bureaucrats in the Self Defense Force and other affiliated government agencies in rural Akita and Iwate prefecture literally sprinting between rooms when the launch was announced. The public disclosure of the pdf linked above is yet another part of looking busy. They’re doing their absolute best to look like they control the situation when they are almost entirely helpful. Tobias has more on this here and here.

I give them an “A” for effort in looking busy. But the stubborn refusal of the Japanese to use modern technology in the most basic of internal management systems is just revolting. Communications in every modern western organization today are handled electronically — nothing needs to be filled out by hand, and there aren’t “runners” in the halls of the Pentagon and Whitehouse to implement and communicate important information. (In the rare situation that data must be taken by hand, it is punched into a database or system through data entry, and raw handwritten documents that aren’t fit for public scrutiny aren’t voluntarily disclosed to the world). Japan has the best hi-tech gadgets in the world, but so much of the busy work of government (and industry) is still handled by this type of paper scrawl, and throwing raw manpower at problems instead of trying to make systems of operation and management efficient or streamlined. All of this means that government in Japan circa 2009 is backwards. This simply must change.

In other news related to the DPRK missile launch, a majority of Americans would support a military response to the missile launch, 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Gingrich says he would have destroyed the missile before it was launched, and in case you didn’t hear it, despite all the chest-thumping from Pyongyang, the launch was actually a failure.

Comments are closed. Please comment at Mutantfrog, where this post also appears, and where I occasionally write posts on topics relating to Japan.

About Curzon

Lord George Nathaniel Curzon (1859 - 1925) entered the British House of Commons as a Conservative MP in 1886, where he served as undersecretary of India and Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Viceroy of India at the turn of the 20th century where he delineated the North West Frontier Province, ordered a military expedition to Tibet, and unsuccessfully tried to partition the province of Bengal during his six-year tenure. Curzon served as Leader of the House of Lords in Prime Minister Lloyd George's War Cabinet and became Foreign Secretary in January 1919, where his most famous act was the drawing of the Curzon Line between a new Polish state and Russia. His publications include Russia in Central Asia (1889) and Persia and the Persian Question (1892). In real life, "Curzon" is a US citizen from the East Coast who has been a financial analyst, freelance translator, and university professor; he is currently on assignment in Tokyo.
This entry was posted in General and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.