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The UK government has signed a cooperation deal with Japan that aims to strengthen digital government transformation.
The memorandum of cooperation (MoC) is intended to establish links between the Government Digital Service (GDS) and Japan’s Digital Agency, and will see the two organisations work together on knowledge and strategies on implementing digital government initiatives across the public sector.
Through the MoC, the two countries’ digital teams will share best practices on training civil servants and building technical capabilities across government. The UK government also hopes that the deal will lead to ways of finding greater efficiencies in government procurement and spending.
Jeremy Quin, UK minister for the Cabinet Office and paymaster general, who attended the signing ceremony remotely, said the UK and Japan “are two of the largest, most advanced economies in the world, with thriving tech sectors and clear ambitions to become world leaders in digital”.
He added: “By sharing expertise in areas like digital government transformation, we look to support each other in delivering better services and unlocking greater opportunities for our citizens and businesses.”
As part of the MoC signing in Tokyo, the UK government sent a delegation from GDS, including CEO Tom Read, who are taking part in workshops and policy exchanges with Japan’s Digital Agency.
Kono Taro, Japan’s digital transformation minister, said the UK is an important partner for Japan, and the countries will work 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,” said Taro.
“By sharing expertise and lessons learned, we are assisting each other in promoting digital transformation in government and across society to ensure no one is left behind.”
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The MoC comes after the two countries announced in May 2022 that they were committed to deepening their collaboration on digital and data. The digital collaboration covers all of the UKngovernment’s digital priorities, including infrastructure, data, regulation and standards, as well as digital transformation.
In March 2022, the UK government also announced plans to work with the Japanese government on strengthening cooperation on efforts to diversify the technology used in telecoms networks. This includes greater information sharing on their respective policy approaches, seeking to build a more more competitive and diverse global market for telecoms equipment, including for 5G and future wireless networks.
These were not the UK’s first deals on cooperation with Japan. In September 2020, the UK signed a “historic” trade deal with Japan, which was expected to boost trade by £15bn a year.
Under the deal, UK businesses were touted to benefit from tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. The deal was hailed as historic by the then international trade secretary Liz Truss, who said it went far beyond the “existing EU deal, as it secures new wins for British businesses in our great manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries”.