Japan is being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century – its government has FINALLY decided to kill off floppy disks!
Japan Is Still Using Floppy Disks + CD-ROM!
Most of the world began transitioning from floppy disks to USB flash drives and rewritable CDs (yes, they exist!) in the late 1990s.
By the 2000s, floppy disk sales tanked globally … except in Japan, where they continued to thrive.
That’s partly because government agencies in Japan continue to require data to be submitted using floppy disks or CD-ROM.
So while the world moved to USB flash drives capable of storing gigabytes of data, Japan remained loyal to floppy disk with its storage capacity of 1.44 MB or 2.88 MB.
Today, Japan is arguably the only country in the world where kids do not stare blankly if you mention “floppy disk”.
Japan To FINALLY Kill Off Floppy Disks + CD-ROM!
On 31 August 2022, Taro Kono – the Minister of Digital Transformation of Japan, announced that the government will rewrite rules requiring the use of floppy disks or CD-ROM.
This is part of the Japanese government’s plan to introduce a national identification number for its citizens, called MyNumber.
MyNumber will be the lynchpin for many of the Japanese government’s future digital services, and will require significant amounts of data to be uploaded to its online databases.
That was when Kono’s department found more than 1,900 regulations regulating how data should be shared with the government, and many of them required the use of floppy disks or CD-ROMs. Even worse – uploading data over the Internet was forbidden for security reasons.
So the Ministry of Digital Transformation will have to fix these regulations before both the Japanese government and its citizens can rid themselves of 1970s-era technology once and for all.
Digital Minister declares a war on floppy discs. 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.
But updating those old regulations is only part of the solution. Kono still has to deal with poor digital literacy, as well as the bureaucratic and conservative culture in Japan which are obstacles to its digital transformation.
Some Japanese government officials continue to insist that floppy disks offer a degree of security and authenticity that an email just cannot. Yoichi Ono – a Tokyo official – claimed in 2021 that floppy disks “almost never broke or lost data”.
That is not true, as many tech old-timers who had to put up with a corrupt disk or two in a multi-disk installation can attest to. But it speaks to the great reluctance in many Japanese organisations to do away with old tech.
Unbelievably, many Japanese companies and government agencies continue to rely significantly on an even older technology from the past – the fax machine.
“I’m looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still plan to do that,” Kano told a news conference this week.
He will be fighting against hundreds of government officials who claim that “banishing fax machines would be impossible” because of “security of sensitive information” and “anxiety over the communication environment (email)”.
I wish Minister Kono all the best in his attempt to drag Japan into the 21st century.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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