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Japan declares war on floppy disks for government use


A floppy disk in the middle of a red circle

Japan’s newly appointed Minister of Digital Affairs, Taro Kono, has declared war on the floppy disk and other forms of obsolete media, which the government still requires as a submission medium for around 1,900 types of business applications and other forms. The goal is to modernize the procedures by moving the information submission process online.

Kono announced the initiative during a press conference in Japan on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. Legal issues have prevented the modernization to cloud data storage in the past, and Japanese government offices often use CDs, MiniDiscs, or floppy disks to accept submissions from the public and businesses. For example, Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reported in December 2021 that Tokyo police lost two floppy disks containing information on 38 public housing applicants. A digital task force group led by Kono will announce how to fix those issues by the end of the year.

Shortly after taking office earlier this month, Kono announced his desire to modernize technology in the Japanese government, speaking out about Japan’s reliance on hanko hand stamps during the COVID-19 pandemic and fax machines instead of email. He’s also been outspoken about the subject on Twitter.

As a storage medium, floppy disk technology dates back over 50 years. Sony introduced 3.5-inch floppy disks in 1983, and they typically store a mere 1.44 megabytes of data in their most popular variation. Sony stopped manufacturing them in 2011, prompting Taro to quip during his press conference, “Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?”





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