Why Japan Declared War on Floppy Disks and CDs


Japan’s Digital Affairs Minister Taro Kono has declared war on floppy disks and other obsolete technologies still used in the country’s administration.

About 1,900 government procedures still require companies to use this type of storage device in addition to CDs and MiniDiscs, Kono said.

He promised to update the regulations to allow all users to access the services online.

Despite its image as a country that pioneered innovative high-tech gadgets, Japan is known for clinging to outdated technologies in its office culture.

Floppy disks were created in the late 1960s and, more than three decades later, have fallen out of favor in favor of more efficient data storage solutions.

It would take over 20,000 to replicate the information storage of a current 32GB memory card.

Although these devices have become obsolete across most of the world, their legacy still lives on because it inspired the “save” icon, widely used in digital services.

At a press conference this week, Kono also criticized the country’s use of other outdated technologies. “I’m trying to get rid of the fax machine and I still can’t,” he said.

As for storage devices, he asked, “Where do you buy a floppy these days?”

A country of contrasts

This is not the first time Japan has been in the news for its antiquated habits, which is a paradox given the country’s ability to develop innovative and successful products.

Several explanations have been offered for this phenomenon, from low digital literacy to its bureaucratic culture permeated by conservative attitudes.

It was especially shocking when the country’s cybersecurity minister admitted in 2018 that he had never used a computer and claimed that he always delegated all information technology-related tasks to his staff.

The last “pager” service provider closed down only in 2019, and the last private user of these devices explained that it was his elderly mother’s favorite method of communication.

In the United States, floppy disks were found to be still being used in the management of the country’s nuclear forces in the 2010s, although this practice was phased out before 2020.

This text was originally published here.

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