Japan is still trying to do away with floppy disks in 2022

Japan is still trying to do away with floppy disks in 2022

Japan wants to kill the floppy once and for all. In any case, this is the wish of the Minister of Digital. But, in this matter, the country is resisting.

We are in 2022 AD. The whole planet uses modern storage media to keep its data… All of it? Nope ! A country populated by indomitable civil servants still and always resists the most modern solutions, continuing to regularly use diskettes. And that country is Japan.

But, this situation is supposed to change soon. In any case, this is the commitment made by the Japanese Minister in charge of Digital, Taro Kono. At the fifth conference on the concept of a digital society in Japan, the interested party promised to rid the administration of a number of obsolete technologies and devices. And, the floppy disk is one of them.

Japan declares war on floppy disks

It is even a battle against these relics of the past that the government intends to lead. On Twitter, Taro Kono thus announced on August 31, 2022 that his ministry “ declared war on floppy disks “. To achieve this, he explains, it will be necessary to change all the procedures which oblige the State, but also the companies, to use it. Nearly 1,900 such rules exist.

This assault on floppy disks received full support of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who has been in office since October 2021. At a press conference, the two political leaders promised to “ review these practices quickly “, noting that this is the point of the story anyway: ” Where can you buy a floppy disk these days? »

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A floppy disk drive. // Paweł Zadrożniak

The persistence of the floppy disk in Japan seems paradoxical for a country perceived as at the forefront of technical progress. The contrast is striking for a country whose advance on such and such a subject, for example, robotics, is praised, but which is still making significant use of diskettes, but also of other dated products.

In his Twitter post, Taro Kono listed others, by the way, like CD-ROMs and MiniDiscs, which are still required to submit applications and forms. Another announced target of the Japanese government: the fax machine. Here again, it turns out that the fax is also resistingdue to strong support in the country.

Moreover, Taro Kono has also declared that he intends to put an end to the fax: I’m looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still plan to do so “. But he has to deal with a certain hostility within a part of the population, whether in business, the bureaucracy or even individuals. A plan to turn the page had to be abandoned.

The Japanese government’s ambitions against floppy disks and a number of other media are not guaranteed to be successful. In 2021, former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also promised to reduce the country’s dependence with regard to certain antiquated practices, but the brevity of his mandate did not allow him to implement his program.

At a more local level too, the bureaucracy is trying to switch to more modern tools. This was shown in a report by Vice in November 2021, with a barely nascent effort by local governments to phase them out. A testimony from a media speaker clearly illustrated the relative passivity of the country on this subject: We never had a problem with that, so we kept using them. »

fax
Another fight of Japan: to finish with the faxes. // Source : mitsy mcgoo

Young people don’t know what floppy disks are

According to our colleagues, the Japanese executive has wanted to update its information processing practices for twenty years, in particular by switching more and more towards dematerialization, digital technology and the most recent tools. A digitization of several administrative procedures (childcare, retirement homes, municipalities) is expected for 2026.

According a ranking dated 2021 According to the Swiss business school IMD, Japan ranks 28th among nations in terms of digital competitiveness. France is 24th, Germany 18th, Canada 13th, Switzerland 6th and the United States 1st. Japan is on a negative trend, as its previous rankings were 23rd and 27th in 2019 and 2020.

A ranking at first glance surprising, but which becomes clearer in view of the difficulty of the country to get up to speed. We saw it with Internet Explorer. Nikkei Asia signaled in mid-June that almost half (49%) of companies surveyed in the country in March still use IE, while Microsoft has not stopped for the past few months to warn of the end of the support and its disappearance.

The floppy disk in its 3.5-inch form originated in Japan, which is perhaps an indication of its longevity in the country — although recent traces of its use can also be found elsewhere. It wasn’t until 2019 that the U.S. military gave up floppy disks to launch its nuclear missiles. Japan is thus not the only one having trouble moving on.

However, it has been more than ten years since Sony stopped manufacturing floppy disks, the last units being released in 2011. The younger generations have never handled it and don’t even know how to recognize them : which also raises the question of the representation of the diskette as save symbol on the PC. It would be time, there too, to turn the page.

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