Why did Japan declare ‘war’ on the storage item?

The Japanese government has declared “war” on a technology considered outdated for many years: floppy disks and their “relatives”, such as CDs. The data storage item, which was widely used until the beginning of the 21st century, is still part of the country’s administration routine and is required for at least 1,900 government procedures.

In a post yesterday on Twitter, the Minister of Digital, Taro Kono, made the announcement of the “battle”. “Minister of Digital Declares War on Floppy Disks. There are about 1,900 government procedures that require the business community to use disks such as floppy disk, CD, MD, etc to submit applications and other forms. Digital Agency is changing these regulations so you can perform them online,” he said.

According to the US website Bloomberg, the Minister held a press conference yesterday saying that the review of practices is being taken “rapidly” and that the country’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, has offered his full support for the changes. “Where do you buy a floppy disk these days?” he asked.

There are still some legal hurdles to make the transition to more modern technology, according to the government. The transition group will review the plans to announce ways to improve them by the end of the year.

Kono of the Liberal Democratic Party has been a vocal critic of bureaucratic inefficiencies in the country, as the government still uses archaic practices like fax machines and hanko, a red stamp to sign official documents. He tried to curb the use of both items when he was Minister of Administrative Reform between 2020 and 2021. However, the attempt did not bear fruit and both are still widely used in the country.

“I’m looking to get rid of the fax machine and I still intend to,” he joked at a news conference.

Although it seems unusual, it is not just Japan that has kept the floppy disk as an essential item for administrative activities. The United States Department of Defense only announced in 2019 that it had ended the use of the storage item internally. They were used in a control system for the nuclear arsenal. It is worth noting that floppy disks were no longer manufactured in 2011.

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