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  • Voltaire Staff

Japan all set to retire 90s relic floppy disc

Japan is bidding farewell to the floppy disk, a previously mandatory medium for submitting around 1,900 official documents to the government.

Public administrators in Japan have been given 2026 deadline to phase out the use of these outdated storage devices entirely.

Despite Japan's reputation for technological advancement, the country is grappling with the challenge of eliminating floppy disks—a medium that disappeared elsewhere over a decade ago.

In 2022, Japan's Minister of Digital Transformation, Taro Kono, committed to overhauling laws mandating the use of floppy disks and CD-ROMs for submitting data to the government.

Kono, championing a campaign against physical media, referred to it as a "war" on floppy disks and advocated for a transition to cloud-based submissions.

He tweeted in 2022, "There are about 1900 government procedures that requires business community to use discs, i. e. floppy disc, CD, MD, etc to submit applications and other forms. Digital Agency is to change those regulations so you can use online."

The recent announcement (original in Japanese) from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry signalled the conclusion of decades-long requirements for physical media submissions in Japan. The ministry stated last week, "Under the current law, there are numerous provisions mandating the use of specific recording media, such as floppy disks, for application and notification methods."

According to a floppy disk seller the website Register spoke to, the floppy disc business, though in remission for long, is going strong on the back of some industries which require them for operations, as well as the legacy tech enthusiasts, of whom there is no dearth.  

"We continue to recycle and resell disks, but the majority of our business is acquiring and selling 'old new stock," said Tom Persky.

"There are an unbelievable number of warehouses across the world with a pallet of floppy disks lost in the back," he added.

Certain industries, such as aerospace, older airplanes, medical equipment, and computerised embroidery machines, still rely on floppy disks for various functions.

Sony, its last manufacturer, ceased production of floppy discs in 2011.

Japan, despite its global tech leadership, maintains an unusual connection with legacy tech, evident in its continued use of cash-only payments and fax machines, showing a slower embrace of the modern digital economy.

Despite efforts to modernise, there is resistance within Japan to fully embrace the digital-first world. Local governments and agencies, as reported by Japanese news sources, have been pushing back against Kono's modernisation initiatives.

The ministry's resolution to retire the floppy disk is undoubtedly a relief for Japanese businesses dealing with submissions related to alcohol business laws, mining regulations, and energy generation rules.


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