Japan’s Government Ends Use Of Floppy Disks

Floppy disks history old © Ingvar Bjork Shutterstock

Decades overdue. Japanese government finally realises it is no longer the 1990s and confirms it has ended use of floppy disks

Japan’s use of outdated legacy technology is back in the headlines this week, after the Japanese government reportedly declared victory in its efforts to end the use of floppy disks.

Japan’s Digital Minister Taro Kono informed Reuters on Wednesday that “we have won the war on floppy disks on June 28!” Taro Kono has reportedly also been vocal about wiping out fax machines and other analogue technology in government.

According to the report, by the middle of June 2024, the Digital Agency in Japan, the government body responsible for leading the country’s digital transformation, had scrapped all 1,034 regulations governing the use of floppy disks, except for one environmental use related to vehicle recycling.

Long time coming

According to Reuters, Japan’s Digital Agency had been established during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, during the scramble to roll out nationwide testing and vaccination had revealed that the Japanese government still relied on paper filing and outdated technology.

The floppy disk is one such outdated technology, due to the fact that from the late 2000s, computers were rarely manufactured with floppy disk drives included.

Indeed, in 2010 Sony announced it would end domestic sales of the 3.5-inch floppy disk by the end of that year.

It ceased production of the floppy disk by March 2011.

Read also Silicon UK’s Tales in Tech History: The Floppy Disk

Tales In Tech History: The Floppy Disk

Outdated tech

Japan’s use of outdated technology is not new, and there has been a campaign to modernise the country’s bureaucracy in recent years.

For example Japan’s love of the fax machine – a device once common in offices around the world in the 1980s and 1990s – is well documented.

The advent of the PC, email and and other digital modernisations, have made fax machines unnecessary in today’s modern life.

But fax machines are still used by most businesses and even in many homes in Japan.

This can be blamed to a certain extent on Japan’s ageing population not willing to change, but also on the fact that many of Japan’s businesses and government offices still keep paper documents and use personal seals (known as hanko), which are used instead of signatures.

Faxes are useful in this regard as they can be stamped with a hanko and kept as a paper record.