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Press Conference By Aso Taro, Japan's Deputy Prime Minister, Minister Of Finance, And Minister Of State For Financial Services - September 25, 2020

Date 13/10/2020

[Questions and answers:]

Q.

I would like to ask about Japan Post Bank. Japan Post Bank announced yesterday that the illegal withdrawals of savings made through the fraudulent use of Docomo accounts and other e-money settlement services had grown to about 60 million yen in total. It also made clear on the 23rd that there had been fraudulent use of mijica debit/prepaid cards. These circumstances call into question the trustworthiness of the bank as a financial institution. What is your view as Minister for Financial Services and what responses will you be requiring of the Japan Post Bank?

A.

The mijica debit card is a service only offered by Japan Post Bank, and I am aware that losses incurred through unauthorized remittances using this type of card have been publicly disclosed. I also understand that the Japan Post Bank has been suspending charges and remittances to prevent further losses, while at the same time contacting customers individually with the intent of fully compensating customers who suffered losses connected with the payment services of fund transfer service providers at the end of October, and other customers who suffered losses relating to mijica around the end of September. The Financial Services Agency insists that Japan Post Bank deal seriously with completing full compensation and preventing further losses and recurrences, so we will closely monitor Japan Post Bank’s user protection efforts. We cannot help but feel the bank was a bit slow to notice this issue, so we at the Financial Services Agency are now demanding that the bank be more prompt in ascertaining the status of user protection.

Q.

It became clear yesterday when pointed out by an overseas investment fund that Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank and Mizuho Trust & Banking had miscounted general shareholders’ meeting voting forms of their client companies. What is your view on this?

A.

I know the news about Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank and Mizuho Trust & Banking came out yesterday, on the 24th. Because accurately counting voting forms in accordance with the Companies Act is one of the foundations of corporate governance, I regard this as an extremely important matter. The Financial Services Agency must continue to follow up on the efforts being made by these two banks to ensure they are dealing with client companies and carrying out operations properly. To suggest that it is easy to make such a mistake would ordinarily make one wonder just how such a mistake could be made because you would expect them to check the counts multiple times, given how important this matter is.

Q.

Mr. Kono as Minister in charge of Administrative Reform has called for the use of seals in administrative procedures to be abolished at all government ministries and agencies. Can you tell us what steps are being taken by the Ministry of Finance and the Financial Services Agency?

A.

This has been underway for quite some time. For many years since I came along people have been claiming that seals are not needed for this or that document and their use has continued to diminish significantly. If this idea can be cleverly promoted as a coronavirus countermeasure and approaches developed that do not require people to place their seals on documents, that is, if a method can be established for confirming documents with a signature, this could work out, and I think it is vital that we eliminate the need for seals. When I was serving as Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications over ten years ago, I probably had to put my seal on something like 22,000 to 23,000 documents. I thought the number of documents requiring seals would have declined considerably, but it does not appear they have decreased by much. I think there are some procedures requiring a seal that can be cut out and some that cannot. There are various times when a seal registration certificate is needed and, for example, times when you must have a bank-registered seal, such as for agreements. The imperial seal itself is a seal, so it is not the case that this would mean getting rid of all seals, and I believe that Minister Kono is suggesting that we look at why seals are being placed on documents and that we should stop requiring that seals be placed on documents that really do not require seals. I think this is entirely correct. This issue has arisen during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and I think it has emerged as part of our reform efforts. I see the trend as a positive one, so we are hoping to pursue this more thoroughly within government offices and even within the Ministry of Finance.