It may come as a surprise that Japan is stuck in the past with technology. Believe it or not, the fourth largest island country in the world still heavily depends on floppy disks and fax machines.
But in a shocking new announcement, Taro Kono, the Japanese minister of digital affairs, has made a vow to get rid of the outdated tech like floppy disk and bring Japan into the digital age.
“Despite the media fascination with portraying Japan as a tech-forward nation, it’s fairly well known that the country has a love for the venerable fax machine, alongside other outdated technologies such as the floppy disk,” Jeff Watkins, chief product and technology officer at xDesign, tells Verdict.
“Part of the fax obsession is reportedly down to the Japanese bureaucratic system requiring a traditional ‘Hanko’ seal, which puts in an extra barrier for digital adoption, but there’s also a worry from within around security – fax being a fairly point-to-point affair.”
Watkins says the Japanese government’s crackdown on outdated technology could cause a backlash among residents who have spent decades without change.
In a news conference, Kono criticised Japan for hanging onto these types of technology and pledged to get rid of floppy disks and fax machines, according to the BBC.
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“Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?” Kono said at the conference.
Kono also tweeted that around 1,900 government procedures still relied on businesses and communities functioning with the use of floppy disks and CDs.
He said the digital agency would change regulations requiring old tech in favour of modern online services.
Kono declared his scheme had the support of the Japanese PM, Sky News reported.
Japan is not alone in using outdated tech like floppy disks
“In 2017 there were still 8,000 fax machines in use in the NHS, with the phase-out date of 2020 being missed and 800+ still being in use today,” says Watkins.
“The US Department of Defence only managed to phase out the floppy disk in 2019, a few years after most suppliers stopped manufacturing them.”
More countries need to rely less on the outdated physical tech that may be “pointless and prone to failure”, says Watkins.
“Modern software’s storage requirements and lack of supply of physical media may well force our collective hands though, even if our cybersecurity experts cannot persuade us to give up our legacy tech.”
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.