Japan 'declares war' on floppy discs, plans to phase out retro tech
Japan has declared war – on floppy disks and other old fashioned technology.
The announcement, coming decades after the technology went out of style, was aptly made by Japan’s newly-appointed minister of digital Tara Kono.
“Where does one even buy a floppy disk?” he wondered during a press conference.
Floppy disks were first developed in the 1960s.
Sony stopped making them in 2011.
Let’s take a look at why Japan has decided to act against floppy disks, its use of retro tech and the obstruction that Kono might face.
Why floppy disks?
This comes on the heels of a Japanese government committee finding a whopping 1,900 areas in which businesses are required to use storage media like floppy disks when making applications or holding data, as per the BBC.
Kono in his press conference slammed Japan’s use of other outdated technology.
“I’m looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still plan to do that,” he added.
As per The Guardian, Kono vowed to rid the bureaucracy of outdated tools by phasing out disks and moving administrative procedures online.
Kono seems to have a made a habit of taking aim at outmoded technology.
“C’mon, there is no analogue thing left in our remarkably advanced society,” he tweeted in response to a comment about his appointment earlier this month.
“Oops, my fax machine is jamming!”
Japan and use of retro tech
Despite its renown for high-end and innovative gadgets, Japan’s office culture clings to outdated technology, as per BBC.
Explanations for this paradox range from poor digital literacy to a bureaucratic culture with conservative attitudes.
There was much shock and surprise in 2018 when the country’s then cyber-security minister stated that he had never used a computer and that he always delegated IT tasks to his staff, as per the report.
It was only in 2019 that Japan’s final pager provider shuttered, with its last subscriber explaining that it was the preferred method of communication for his elderly mother.
As per Bloomberg, the United States has also continued to use antiquated tech.
In 2019, the US defence department announced that it has stopped using floppy disks in a control system for its nuclear arsenal.
But history shows it might not be smooth sailing for Kono.
As per The Guardian, Kono’s 2021 campaign against hanko – official seals that are used to sign contracts and other documents – and fax machines didn’t go entirely to the liking of the then administrative reform minister.
The seals and fax machines remain in use, as per the report.
As per Indiatimes, Japanese government officials say legal hurdles are making the switch from floppy disks to cloud storage difficult.
Plus the bureaucracy seem against it.
As per The Guardian, some Japanese official believe physical media offer a degree of authenticity that an email does not, while politicians in a region known for producing intricately carved hanko accused him of attacking a “symbol of Japan”.
The disks “almost never broke or lost data”, Yoichi Ono, an official in Tokyo’s Meguro ward, told Nikkei Asia last year when the local government decided to phase out floppies and other physical storage data, as per the report.
The ward had previously saved information on payments to employees on floppies that were then taken to the bank for processing. Chiyoda, another Tokyo ward, said it would follow suit “within the next few years”, according to the Nikkei.