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Signature Stamp Culture Crisis

In Japan, signature stamp has been used as a mean of ID for a long time as a culture. Not only personally used, but also it is used in many occasions such as invoice, contract between companies. However, there are so many criticizing opinions toward this culture nowadays. For example, while remote works are recommended because of the impact of COVID-19, there are so many people that are forced to go to their offices only to stamp their seals.

The history of signature of stamp starts in the neolithic era in Greece and it spread to China in the 5 B.C to 3 B.C. and the culture grew there in the 2 B.C. thanks to the invention of paper. In Japan, this culture was brought from Sui dynasty in 700s, linked to laws and politics. However, the usage was pretty limited among the government officeholders. Only in the Edo era, about 400 years to 200 years ago from now, this culture spread to ordinarily people as well. Even though some people used their signatures when they people needed to make contract between themselves, purchases or borrow money, still signature stamps was a mainstream of authentication at the time. As the spread of the stamps, all the Japanese people including peasants need to submit their certificate of a seal-impression to local governments. This habit continues until now.

However, in the early of Meiji era, about 100 years ago, an argument about signature of stamp showed up. People discussed if they continue to use seals as an identification on the official papers. There were three possibilities, they officially allow to use combination of signature and seals, only seals or only signature on archives. As a result, only seals were allowed to use on archives under the name of the act on occasions that you ought to make signs in commercial laws. In the other words, the only seal stream defeated the only signature stream. The reason why people choose seal was that there were so many people who are not alphabetized and cannot read signatures, and the possibility that other people can forgery the seals were quite lower than its of signatures.

Unfortunately, nowadays those benefits of seals no longer held the values. We can imitate those stamps with 3D printers and we can buy those casual stamps at stores. The stamp culture doesn’t have meaning of authentication that is used to have. People still use the stamps and seals because of the habit. It is obvious that the stamp culture is not necessary anymore because people can use digital signatures. Because of the period of colonization from Japan, Korea had a history of usage of signature stamps, however, it has already decided to disuse stamps gradually since 2009.

We can assume that Japan will follow the same way as Korea because of the necessity of remote works related to COVID-19. But, why Japanese people haven’t admit the fact that stamps are not particularly needed until now? One of the reason is that Japan still doesn’t have a social culture that each individual think independently. Because of that, people tend to prioritize reading the lines to logical thinking, efficiency, evidence and argumentation. People stop thinking, in general.

Nevertheless, the virus didn’t follow the way as the Japanese people do. That’s why Japanese people didn’t have no choice than reviewing the usage of stamps, however, it doesn’t mean people started to think independently and to have their individual opinions. Even though it had a big impact on Japanese people’s situation, it didn’t become a opportunity to grow up for the people.

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