Even before the coronavirus pandemic struck, the management of Tohoku University was looking at ways to reduce paperwork, streamline its operations and reduce the working hours required to run one of the leading institutes of higher education in Japan. Limitations on travel introduced after the virus began to spread across the country, along with the need to shift lectures online and the start of physical distancing throughout the university, in the city of Sendai, in northeast Japan, hastened both the discussions and the decisions. Read more: Japan looks for love online amid coronavirus crisis It did not require much persuading for management to decide to largely do away with the official “hanko” seals that are a critical symbol of authority for companies, organizations and governments. The repercussions of that decision, however, are seismic. Hanko seals are used on every official form that a company or organization produces, while every individual Japanese has his or her personal seal that is applied to every important document, from applications for a passport, credit card or mortgage to school applications and even accepting a registered letter from the post office. 2,000-year-old technology The hanko are used in Japan instead of a person’s signature and they… Read full this story
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