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Politics

Suga asked, Japan answered: Red-tape hotline flooded with tips

4,000 messages received as new cabinet pushes reform agenda and mobile rate cuts

An online suggestion box set up Thursday afternoon by Taro Kono, minister for administrative and civil service reform, was suspended early Friday due to the overwhelming response. (Photo by Rie Ishii)

TOKYO -- Japan's new government has taken steps toward implementing some of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's top priorities, and in one case received an overwhelming public response.

Taro Kono, minister for administrative and civil service reform, told reporters Friday that a new online system to take public suggestions for cutting red tape had been taken down temporarily after receiving more than 4,000 messages, an influx that threatened to exceed its capacity.

The suggestion box on Kono's personal website was set up Thursday afternoon at Suga's direction as part of his efforts to break down silos in Japan's bureaucracy.

But after the flood of input, Kono tweeted early Friday morning that "we are temporarily suspending new submissions while we go through the opinions" that have already been received.

In the meantime, members of the public can use the Cabinet Office's regulatory reform hotline to offer suggestions for administrative reform as well, he said.

The Suga government is moving to substantially cut mobile service rates. (Photo by Masayuki Terazawa)

Suga has also taken an initial step toward his goal of cutting mobile service rates, according to Communications Minister Ryota Takeda, who met with the prime minister on Friday.

Takeda told reporters after the meeting that Suga had directed him to "put together a team, make concrete progress and get good results," adding that the ministry would seek to do so quickly.

"We'll get it done, 100%," Takeda said. "It's not a matter of whether we can or can't, but whether we will or won't."

As for the size of the fee reductions, the communications minister argued that cuts of just 10% or so "aren't real reform."

"Overseas, there are some countries that put healthy market mechanisms in place and lowered rates by 70%," he said.

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