Obsolete technology: Japan: Digital Minister finally wants to ban floppy disks from public authorities

In Germany, one often has to get annoyed about the sleepy digitization of offices and authorities.

Obsolete technology: Japan: Digital Minister finally wants to ban floppy disks from public authorities

In Germany, one often has to get annoyed about the sleepy digitization of offices and authorities. Submitting an application via the fax machine – meanwhile a joke that still has a core of truth. One looks longingly to countries where things are supposedly so much easier and more digital - especially South Korea or Japan. But at least for the latter, the prejudice of the high-tech society is not entirely correct.

Because the authorities in Japan still work to a large extent with a storage medium that children and young people should only be familiar with from the "Save" button: the floppy disk.

While the country is home to one of the largest tech industries in the world and digitization has become completely a matter of course in everyday life, the square plastic data carrier seems completely out of date.

Digital Minister Taro Kono apparently sees it that way and has now declared the fight against the floppy disk to be a top priority. At a press conference, he explained that around 1,900 official procedures in Japan still required outdated data carriers such as floppy disks, CDs or mini-discs. So if you want to apply for building or social assistance, you still have to submit it to the responsible office on a physical data carrier. Emails are often not allowed in such cases. This should be over now. Kono has declared war on outdated technology. "Where can you even buy a floppy disk these days?" he asked.

But his plan to let the authorities in Japan arrive in the present will probably not be that easy. By the end of the year, it should first be found out for which processes physical data carriers are required. The state offices should then gradually be able to access cloud-based systems – without CDs or floppy disks.

And time is pressing. Because many new floppy disks should no longer be in circulation. Sony was the last Japanese company to stop producing data carriers in 2011. The reason for this is obvious: the storage capacity of floppy disks is 1.4 megabytes. For the data on a 32 GB USB stick, you would need more than 20,000 diskettes.

Reporter Andreas Noll told Deutschlandfunk Nova that there was no scientific explanation as to why the otherwise progressive country stuck to the old technology for so long. Rather, it is a gut feeling, characterized by familiarity and security. In 2018, almost half of the Japanese would have had a fax machine at home. This could change soon. Because Kono would also like to get rid of these devices.

So the last floppy disk could soon be pushed into a computer. The last thing that would remind you of them would be the ubiquitous "save" icon.

Sources: BBC, Der Spiegel, German Radio Nova

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