UK and Japan have further joined forces to share mechanisms in digitally transforming their governments and thriving economics. The signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation agreement symbolises a closer collaboration to fulfil joint digital priorities, such as digital infrastructure, identification data, digital regulation and standards.

Tom Read, CEO of the Government Digital Service, was the elected representative for the UK who attended in-person to meet Japan’s Digital Transformation Minister, Kono Taro in Tokyo.

The UK’s digital levelling-up plans cover ambitions to achieve national connectivity, as well as assured data privacy for citizens and end-users when accessing a public or private service.

Japan initiative of introducing My Number Cards with digital certification has evolved and gradually replaced public health insurance cards and other cards to access vital services, instead linking up services to one government-approved digital identity.

In May 2022, a previous MoC signing between GovTech and the Digital Agency of Japan pathed the way for the UK and Japan’s synchronised roadmap to digital transformation.

Speaking at the time, GovTech Deputy Chief Executive, Chan Cheow Hoe, said: “This is a win-win collaboration for both countries and both agencies. Such exchanges will benefit the design and development of digital services for our citizens and businesses”.

The new signing represents a continuation of projects and sharing of knowledge and strategies to build technical capabilities across both government departments and agencies.

Japan’s Digital Transformation Minister KONO Taro commented on the news, saying: “The UK is an important partner for Japan and we are working together to maximise the benefits of digital. We are happy to welcome the GDS delegation as we have learned from the UK’s experience in delivering our own digital government initiatives, like the establishment of the Digital Agency. By sharing expertise and lessons learned, we are assisting each other in promoting digital transformation in the government and across society to ensure no one is left behind”.

On Sept. 1, the Digital Agency marked its first anniversary after being launched in the short tenure of former Prime Minister, Suga Yoshihi. It sought to bring digital transformation proposals up-to-date in line with a new overarching legal framework.