Japan’s National Imperative to Go Paperless

Keith Krach
March 21, 2017

Behind the Scenes

Photo left: Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany should be adopting e-signature at a faster rate. Photo right: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discusses Japan’s role as a global leader in digitalization.

I am attending CeBit in Germany this week, and with Japan being the country partner of the event, it got me thinking about our trip to Tokyo last month! Here are some highlights:

I had the honor of traveling to Japan and representing DocuSign in announcing its new "Invest for Japan" initiative, which will help accelerate digital transformations across the country.

‍It was great to meet with Toru Takahashi, Chairman of the Japan Post. DocuSign is assisting with MyPost’s transition to digital.
‍Head of all Ministries & Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Hiroto Izumi, and I discussed our DocuSign for Japan initiative and his assistance in getting legislation bills passed to promote the digital transformation that is backed by so many industry leaders in Japan.

For centuries, the Hanko -- a unique stamp personalized to each individual or corporation -- has dominated Japanese business. While the Hanko will always have a place in Japanese culture, DocuSign has partnered with Shachihata,  a Japanese leader in producing unique Hanko stamps, to bring an integrated eSignature solution to market in March 2017.

The partnership, first announced in 2015, will allow Japanese companies to utilize an electronic Hanko functionality, called the Personal eHanko, when conducting business. This new solution will allow signers to upload and apply a personal Hanko to represent their signature or approval on any document, completely eliminating the need for paper.

The integration of Shachihata's e-hanko with DocuSign's Digital Transaction Management (DTM) platform will enable the digitization of business processes in Japan, empowering Japanese companies to achieve faster speed of transactions, increased security and compliance, and improved customer experiences.

Just as DocuSign has transformed how business is transacted in the United States, so too that is the goal for Japan.

What’s important here is that so many of Japan’s top industry leaders and government officials back this initiative!

Former Chairman of the Real Estate Association of Japan, Kawaguchi Yuuichiro is a champion for Japan’s digital transformation.

NTT, one of Japan’s largest advanced technology companies became a DocuSign Japan showcase account and President and CEO Dr. George Kimura joined our advisory board as a founding member.

"DocuSign is one of the most strategic categories of cloud services today, helping companies like us, NTT-AT, achieve their digital transformations," said George Kimura, President and CEO of NTT Advanced Technology. "DocuSign's DTM platform service positively impacts nearly every area where we measure our success, including revenues, efficiency, costs, security, compliance, customer experience, and sustainability.”

‍Masayoshi Funahashi, COO of Shachihata, spoke at our press event of over 200+ attendees outlining DocuSign’s partnership with the primary stamp-related product manufacturer in Japan.

All of these Japanese thought leaders look at DocuSign as a catalyst to accelerate Japan’s digital transformation. Our goal is to help Japanese government and companies increase productivity and save paper. Japan has the second most paper per capita in the entire world!

Here are a few more photos and experiences from my time in Japan.

Upon arrival, Yasuki Kaibori, the Japanese Minister for Construction, Engineering and Real Estate, demonstrated the paper problem DocuSign will solve in Japan’s real estate economy. We called this giant stack the Tokyo Paper Tower!

‍‍I also visited with Docusign’s first ever customer in Japan, Pasona, and the company's President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Sato. Pasona provides a variety of staffing services, including temporary staffing, recruiting, outplacement and outsourcing to customers across Asia and beyond.

No one understands the benefit of digitization more than Mr. Sato.

"As the clear global standard for Digital Transaction Management, DocuSign is helping Pasona to digitize our business for faster speed to results and greater productivity. After implementing DocuSign for Salesforce, we saw immediate benefit and return on investment with DocuSign decreasing our cost per transaction by 50%.”   – Scott Sato

‍It was wonderful to catch up with my old friend Yasuo Mizoguchi, President and CEO of SoftBank Commerce & Service. DocuSign is assisting in digitizing more than 13 million paper documents across Softbank, a well-respected corporation that focuses on the manufacturing, distribution and sales of IT-related products and provision of IT-related services.

After the joint DocuSign and Shachihata press conference in Tokyo to announce the eHanko roll out, I sat down for an interview with Waichi Sekiguchi from Nikkei, the Wall Street Journal of Japan, to discuss Japan’s push to go paperless. Drastically transforming business requires changing regulations and practices. Read more about it here using an online translation tool:

A special thanks to everyone who helped make this trip a resounding success, including Hayato Koeda, Vice President and General Manager of DocuSign in Japan, and Jonathan Heimer, Deputy Sr. Commercial Officer of the U.S. Embassy in Japan. Stay tuned for more to come!

“Domo arigato gozaimasu. DocuHanko and ikimashou’// Translation: “Thank you very much. DocuStamp and Let’s Go!”
Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.