20,000 digital advisers eyed to support silver surfers

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, second from right, speaks at a meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The government has proposed assigning more than 20,000 volunteer advisers nationwide by the end of this fiscal year to teach senior citizens how to use digital devices.

The proposal was included in a draft released Wednesday of a policy aimed at revitalizing regional areas by utilizing digital technology. The government plans to formulate a comprehensive policy strategy by the end of this year.

“The government will work together to promote the initiatives and achieve noticeable results,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a policy meeting on Wednesday.

The basic policy proposal is expected to be approved by the Cabinet in the near future.

Under the proposal, volunteer advisers will be assigned to teach elderly people who are not accustomed to using smartphones and other digital devices how to operate them through workshops, among other opportunities, as part of efforts to realize a people-friendly digital society in which no one is left behind.

The Digital Agency began accepting applications for the voluntary roles at the end of May, and will appoint advisers after the candidates have completed training.

The assignments are expected to last one year and will be unpaid.

The government announced last year that it would aim to secure 10,000 advisers, but it has doubled the size of the team in the latest proposal because it expects to receive support from mobile phone operators, among others.

In the draft proposals, the government has revised upward its target for the high-speed, high-capacity 5G network — which currently reaches around 30% of the population — to 95% by fiscal 2023.

The draft also states that the government will train 2.3 million personnel to promote digitization in regional communities by the end of fiscal 2026 and aim to increase the number of local governments that utilize digital technology to solve local issues to 1,000 organizations by the end of fiscal 2024.