Japan declares ‘war’ on the humble floppy disk in new digital push

Japan’s digital minister, who has pledged to rid the bureaucracy of outdated tools from the hanko stamp to the fax machine, has now declared “war” on a technology many haven’t seen in decades: the floppy disk.

The hand-sized, square-shaped data storage element and similar devices, including the CD or even a lesser-known mini-disk, are still needed for some 1,900 government procedures and must go. Digital Minister Taro Kono wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

“We will review these practices quickly,” Kono told a news conference on Tuesday, adding that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had offered his full support. “Where do you even buy a floppy disk these days?”

Japan isn’t the only country that has struggled to phase out this outdated technology – the US Department of Defense only announced in 2019 that it had ended the use of floppy disks, which were developed for the first time in the 1960s, in a control system for its nuclear arsenal.

Sony Group Corp. stopped making the discs in 2011 and many young people would struggle to describe how to use one or even identify one in the modern workplace.

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