More than a decade after their disappearance, the Japanese government declares “war” on floppy disks
WTF? ! Several technological products that can definitely be considered obsolete are still widely used in Japan. Compact discs, fax machines and other archaic technologies are still part of many Japanese government procedures, but the country’s digital minister has now declared ‘war’ on one of the most iconic: floppy disks.
Japan’s digital minister tweeted that floppy disks, CDs and even mini-discs are still needed for around 1,900 government procedures in which business communities submit applications and other forms. The country’s digital agency will bring these procedures into the modern era (or the 21st century) by allowing them to be carried out online.
Digital Minister declares war on floppy disks.
There are about 1,900 government procedures that compel the business community to use disks i.e. floppy disks, CDs, MDs, etc. to submit applications and other forms. Digital Agency is to change these regulations so that you can use online.
— KONO Taro (@konotaromp) August 31, 2022
“We will review these practices quickly,” Kono said at a press conference on Tuesday (via Bloomberg). He added that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offered his full support. “Where do you even buy a floppy disk these days?”
The Japanese government’s digital task force writes that wider adoption of modern technologies such as cloud storage within bureaucracy is being slowed by legal hurdles. It plans to announce improvements and system updates by the end of the year.
A number of outdated technologies from our once-iconic tech products that are now fading memory article are still in use in Japan. Fax machines, used by government branches in many countries until recently, are still found in many Japanese government offices.
“I’m looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still intend to do that,” Kono said.
Floppy disks were once the standard format for computer software. There were several versions, including an eight-inch (80 KB) version that was first used in 1967 and the 5.25-inch (360 KB for double-sided) version that was popular in the early 1980s. But most people associate them with the stiffer 3.5-inch floppy disk, named for the flexible sheath inside that held the data.
Everyday users are unlikely to have encountered many floppy disks over the past decade, but 8-inch versions weren’t phased out by the US for its nuclear weapons systems until 2019 – the Pentagon is switched to SSDs. There was also Boeing, which still used conventional 3.5-inch floppy disks to update software for some of its Boeing 747 planes in 2020.