What is a hanko?
A hanko is probably something you hear only in Japan. It is mainly used for “contracts with external parties” and “internal approval”. If you ever live in Japan, it will most likely be a necessity as it is used whenever you sign anything.
As for internal approval documents and decision documents, they are decided by the rules within the company, and the purpose is to keep evidence of the intentions expressed. This is often maintained as a “workflow” in companies where groupware has been introduced. It may be difficult to maintain a workflow in a job that requires a lot of on-site work. Basically, this is an area that can be addressed by developing an internal system.
Why do they use a hanko?
The hanko is necessary with contracts because an oral promise is not evidence. On top of that, there is the issue of identity theft and forgery. Pressing the hanko on the document allows the receiver of the contract to be sure that it was signed by that particular person. In addition, you want to get a document with a stamp from the other party to preserve the evidence, and also to ensure that the other party did not sign the document without permission.
Incidentally, a stamp is just a stamp. and it can be stolen or forged from the image of the stamp. If this is allowed to happen, all the contracts signed would be meaningless, creating chaos within society, so forgery or misuse of seals is heavily punishable.
Is it necessary?
Most of the “contracts” with external parties can be replaced with electronic signatures. Even though Japan is a first world country with high technological advancements, they are still very delayed in terms of contracts and signings.
Japan is currently trying to break away from the use of hanko, and start using electronic signatures. One of the biggest flaws of the hanko is that it can only be stamped in person, thus making it bothersome for those who have to press it. It especially became a problem with the Corona Virus becoming active, as it prevented workers from being able to work from home. It is still a large part of Japanese work culture to this day, and it may take a while for it to be completely eradicated.
Do you need a hanko when signing contracts with UR?
Whenever you sign a contract with UR housing, a hanko is not necessary, and your hand-written signature will do just fine!