Skip to main content

Floppy disks are finally on the way out in Japan … maybe

Japan may well be a leader in innovation and technology, but this week a prominent government figure revealed how it sometimes likes to hold on to old technologies, too.

Days after taking up his role as the nation’s Minister of Digital Affairs, Taro Kono tweeted: “Digital Minister declares a war on floppy discs.”

That’s right, floppy disks, those data-holding plastic objects that our great grandparents used to stick into computers. Though in Japan, some folks still do.

Kono said there are “about 1,900 government procedures” that involve members of the business community having to use some type of disk, including the floppy type.

Digital Minister declares a war on floppy discs.
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.

— KONO Taro (@konotaromp) August 31, 2022

In a bold bid to take government work into the 21st century — 22 years after it arrived and 11 years after Sony manufactured the last floppy disk — Kono said he wants to finally replace the storage medium and do everything online instead.

It’s not the first time that Kono has gone on the offensive against old tech. Speaking last year in his previous role as administrative reform minister, he made clear his wish to rid government departments of fax machines, suggesting email might be a better way to communicate. But some government departments pushed back, arguing that fax machines were more secure than online communication.

Kono’s comments followed criticism early on in the pandemic in 2020 when doctors complained about having to handwrite paperwork on new COVID cases before faxing the information to public health centers as part of the data collection process. An online reporting system was eventually introduced in August 2020.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be too harsh on Japan. After all, it was only three years ago that the U.S. military finally ditched a 1970s-era system that used floppy disks for the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces, replacing them with a solid-state digital storage solution.

Kono’s war on floppy disks brings to mind another episode in 2018 when, a month after being appointed as Japan’s cyber-security minister, Yoshitaka Sakurada openly admitted that he’d never used a computer.

“Since I was 25 years old and independent I have instructed my staff and secretaries,” he said at the time, adding: “I have never used a computer in my life.”

Sakurada is no longer in post.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Quest Pro 2: What we know about Meta’s next premium VR headset
From a side view, you can see how glasses can be worn along with a Quest Pro.

While Meta’s Quest Pro is one of the best VR headsets available, it never reached its full potential as a laptop replacement for spatial computing. Meta hasn’t given up on making a work-centric solution, and rumors suggest a Meta Quest Pro 2 is still in development. Here’s what we know so far about Meta's answer to Apple's Vision Pro.
Meta Quest Pro 2 release date speculation
It’s difficult to make a solid prediction on when Meta will launch the Quest Pro 2. Meta CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth made it clear in an Instagram AMA that Meta is continually prototyping new VR headsets to find out what’s possible with current technology. That gives Meta more flexibility than manufacturers that research for years before doing hardware testing.

If Meta is satisfied with the performance of the Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2 and LG can deliver enough micro-OLED displays, the Quest Pro 2 could arrive as early as this October at Meta Connect 2024.

Read more
Does RAM speed matter for PC performance?
Installing RAM sticks in a motherboard.

RAM is one of the primary components in a PC, and it's important that you have at least a certain amount of RAM depending on what you want to do with your PC. However, there are more things to RAM than just capacity: Frequency and latency are important considerations, too.

The question of whether RAM speed matters is especially important now that we have two generations of RAM available, both DDR4 and DDR5 -- and they have vastly different speeds. The official maximum clock speed for DDR4 was 3200MHz, while DDR5 starts at 4800MHz, an increase of 50%; however, you'll easily find RAM kits reaching above 7000MHz. Although latency significantly went up, from CL14 on most 3200MHz DDR4 kits to CL40 on most 4800MHz DDR5 kits, DDR5 is still found to be faster.

Read more
The 6 best 2-in-1 laptops for drawing in 2024
Portal RTX running on the Surface Laptop Studio 2.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or enjoy drawing as a hobby, investing in a 2-in-1 laptop is a great idea for all sorts of artists. Drawing on a laptop makes it easy to quickly share your creation with others, which is especially useful if you're doing it as a professional–negating the need to upload your pen-and-paper sketch to the computer before sending it to a client. Moreover, working on a laptop lets you undo mistakes, zoom in to better handle small details, and quickly change utensils.

There are a lot of perks to drawing on a 2-in-1 laptop, but not all of them are great for creators. Some have unresponsive displays that can't register all your movements, while others might have a lackluster resolution or color spectrum that turns most images into a muddled mess. Because of that, it can be hard figuring out which laptop is best for your needs. And if you'll be spending a good chunk of change on the laptop, you'll want to make sure you get it right.

Read more