Japan finally phases out floppy disks

Japan this week abolished all regulations mandating the use of floppy disks for administrative purposes, catching up with changing times 13 years after domestic manufacturers last produced floppy disks.

Invented in the 1970s, floppy disks were once ubiquitous in computers before being replaced by other forms of memory like flash drives and internet cloud storage. In the 1990s, floppy disks, along with cassette tapes, slowly disappeared into the trash bin as outdated technology.

But that’s not the case in Japan. Though famous for its giant electronics companies, robots and the world’s fastest broadband network, Japan is also tied to old technologies like floppy disks, fax machines and cash.

Japan began moving away from the 20th century’s storage devices – magnetic disks in plastic cases – just two years ago, when the country’s digital minister, Taro Kono, declared a “war on floppy disks.”

Kono was inspired by a highway sign for an American cancer clinic that read, “If you know what a floppy disk is, it might be time to get screened for cancer.” Responded On social media, people were saying, “No, not necessarily Japan.”

In the southern town of Tsuwano, officials only replaced the stacks of floppy disks in April 2023, according to Nobuyuki Kodo, an employee in the accounting department.

Building the town’s new database took time, but the switch was inevitable and the new system is faster and more accurate, he said.

A wide range of businesses, including mines, oil companies, retailers, liquor stores, and shopping centers, were bound by a variety of rules and required to submit documents to regulators on floppy disks.

According to the Ministry of Digital Affairs, even after Sony, once a major manufacturer of floppy disks for the Japanese market, stopped producing them in 2011, there remained more than 1,000 laws, ordinances and directives requiring floppy disks.

On Wednesday, Kono declared victory in the war. All of these regulations have been reviewed by lawmakers, voted on after public comment, and are now in the final stages of being passed. Struck DownHe said.

The last remaining rule, relating to the recycling of used cars, was repealed on June 28, he said.

Outside of the government, some Japanese industries are not yet ready to let go.

Honda Motoi, an analyst at the Kyoto Municipal Industrial Technology Research Institute, said most of the traditional textile industry in parts of Kyoto, which makes kimonos and other items, hasn’t updated its technology since the introduction of floppy disks in the 1980s.

Higo Bank, a regional financial institution in Kyushu, processes about 300 floppy disks each day, weighing nearly 10 pounds, according to spokesman Yusuke Murayama.

The bank told customers who were still using the disks to store their bank account information that it would stop accepting them in the spring and tried to persuade them to change the format.

Floppy disks are still in use outside of Japan: They are used in the embroidery and avionics industries, and until recently, were even used in US nuclear weapons.

Within the government, Kono’s work is not done yet. Shown He also considered fax machines, still widely used in Japan, and recommended switching to email.

In Tsuwano, the accounting department upgraded from floppy disks last year, but the town hall fax machine is still often the fastest way to send information, said Kodo, the town hall employee. Employees fax names of people who have died to the newspaper’s obituary department, which then uses the machine to communicate with local businesses.

“Sometimes people don’t notice the emails,” Coto said.

But even after he finally got rid of his floppy disks, he still missed some things about the old system.

“There was no risk of being hacked,” he said. “Now we just have to be mindful of the security of our data.”

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