Japan’s Digital Minister is going to war against floppy disks and fax machines

Taro Kono wants to end the government’s stubborn reliance on outdated tech.

Melissa Kopka via Getty Images

Japan has a high level of adoption when it comes to advanced technologies and is a world leader in various areas, such as robotics. However, it's also resistant to certain facets of modernization and tend to stick to old-fashioned solutions — fax machines, for instance, are still widely used. And apparently, so are floppy disks. The country's newly appointed Minister of Digital Affairs, Taro Kono, has tweeted that he's declaring "a war on floppy disks."

Apparently, there are still around 1,900 government procedures in Japan that require the use of disks, including floppy disks, CDs and MiniDiscs, to submit forms and applications. "Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?" he asked during a news conference. Indeed, the younger generation might not know what any of those look like anymore. Kono said his agency will work on amending regulations that require their use, so people can submit forms and applications online instead.

The US government had been using floppy disks as recently as 2019, as well, and it was to receive nuclear launch orders from the President. It wasn't until that year that the government transitioned to a "highly-secure solid state digital storage solution."

Kono doesn't intend to stop with floppy disks either and has announced his plans to phase out the use of more outdated technologies. "I'm looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still plan to do that," he said. The minister doesn't have to worry about ending pager services, at least: The last pager provider in the country closed up shop a mere three years ago in September 2019.

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