WTF?! Several tech products that can definitely be considered as obsolete still find widespread use in Japan. Compact discs, fax machines, and other archaic technologies remain 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 floppies, CDs, and even mini-disks are still required for around 1,900 government procedures in which business communities submit applications and other forms. The country's digital agency is going to bring these procedures into the modern era (or the 21st century) by allowing them to be performed online.
Digital Minister declares a war on floppy discs.— KONO Taro (@konotaromp) August 31, 2022
There are about 1900 government procedures that requires business community to use discs, i. e. floppy disc, CD, MD, etc to submit applications and other forms. Digital Agency is to change those regulations so you can use online.
"We will be reviewing these practices swiftly," Kono said in a press conference Tuesday (via Bloomberg). He added that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has offered his full support. "Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?"
The Japanese government's digital taskforce writes that broader adoption of modern technologies such as cloud storage within the bureaucracy is being slowed down by legal hurdles. It plans to announce improvements and updates to the systems by year's end.
A number of obsolete technologies from our Once-Iconic Tech Products That Are Now a Fading Memory article are still being used in Japan. Fax machines, used by many countries' government branches up until recently, are still found in many Japanese government offices.
"I'm looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still plan to do that," said Kono.
Floppy disks were once the standard format for computer software. There were several versions, including an eight-inch one (80 KB) that was first used in 1967 and the 5.25-incher (360KB for double-sided) that were popular in the early 1980s. But most people associate them with the more rigid 3.5-inch floppy, named after the flexible sheath on the inside that contained the data.
It's pretty unlikely that everyday users will have encountered many floppy disks over the last decade, yet 8-inch versions were only dropped by the US for its nuclear weapons systems in 2019—the Pentagon moved to SSDs. There was also Boeing, which was still using classic 3.5-inch floppy disks to update the software in some of its Boeing 747 planes in 2020.