(Bloomberg) -- Japan Minister for Digital Transformation Takuya Hirai plans to launch the administration’s promised Digital Agency next year to improve the efficiency of government services, he told Fuji TV Sunday.

The minister said he wants to bring in personnel from the private sector to staff the new agency, and that he intends to break down the existing bureaucratic culture.

The government came under harsh criticism earlier this year for its slow response to the coronavirus and its economic fallout, especially compared with neighboring South Korea. Japan suffered a “digital defeat” against the pandemic, Hirai told national broadcaster NHK.

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The Digital Agency was one of the party leadership campaign pledges of new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was voted into office by parliament on Wednesday, replacing Shinzo Abe, the country’s longest-serving premier.

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