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Japan’s Government Phases Out Floppy Disks

ByYasmeeta Oon

Jul 4, 2024

Japan’s Government Phases Out Floppy Disks

In a significant technological shift, Japan has bid farewell to floppy disks, marking the end of an era for the country’s government computer systems. Announced by the Japan Digital Agency on Wednesday, this move signifies the nation’s commitment to modernizing its technology infrastructure and moving away from outdated storage mediums.

Japan’s Digital Minister, Taro Kono, proudly declared the milestone, stating, “We have won the war on floppy disks on June 28!” This announcement signifies the culmination of a dedicated effort to eliminate obsolete technology from government operations. The only remaining system that still relies on floppy disks is an environmental monitoring system for vehicle recycling, as reported by Reuters.

The Digital Agency began its mission to modernize Japan’s government technology in 2022, shortly after Kono’s appointment. At that time, approximately 1,900 government procedures were dependent on outdated technology, including floppy disks, fax machines, CDs, and MiniDiscs. Kono’s crusade against ’90s-era technology was publicly declared to his 2.5 million followers on X, where he famously announced a “war on floppy disks.”

TechnologyStatusUsage in Government Procedures
Floppy DisksPhased outPreviously used in 1,900 procedures
Fax MachinesPhased outVarious communication functions
CDsPhased outData storage and transfer
MiniDiscsPhased outData storage and transfer
Environmental SystemStill in useVehicle recycling monitoring

Japan’s reliance on floppy disks might seem peculiar to many, but it is not the only country that has held onto these relics of a bygone era. The United States military, for instance, used 8-inch floppy disks for its Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS). This 1970s computer system was responsible for receiving nuclear launch codes and sending emergency messages to military centers and field sources. The world became aware of this continued use of outdated technology thanks to a report by CBS’s 60 Minutes and journalist Lesley Stahl. It wasn’t until 2019 that the Defense Department finally phased out SACCS, presumably also doing away with any remnants of 1970s decor.

Taro Kono’s mission to modernize Japan’s digital infrastructure is part of a broader effort to ensure that the country’s technology systems are efficient, secure, and up-to-date. The use of outdated technology like floppy disks poses several risks, including data loss, security vulnerabilities, and inefficiencies in government operations. By phasing out these technologies, Japan aims to improve its digital infrastructure and provide better services to its citizens.

Key Points of Japan’s Technological Transition:

  • Modernization Efforts: Japan’s Digital Agency initiated efforts in 2022 to update and secure the country’s government technology systems.
  • Public Declaration: Digital Minister Taro Kono announced the end of floppy disk usage on June 28, signaling a significant milestone in the modernization process.
  • Remaining Systems: The only system still relying on floppy disks is an environmental monitoring system for vehicle recycling.
  • Global Comparisons: The US military’s use of 8-inch floppy disks for SACCS until 2019 highlights that Japan is not alone in its historical reliance on outdated technology.

The transition away from floppy disks is just one aspect of Japan’s broader digital transformation. The Digital Agency’s efforts include phasing out other obsolete technologies such as fax machines, CDs, and MiniDiscs. This comprehensive modernization strategy aims to enhance the efficiency and security of government operations, ultimately benefiting Japanese citizens.

By embracing modern technology, Japan is setting a precedent for other nations that may still be relying on outdated systems. The commitment to innovation and progress in the digital realm is essential for maintaining competitiveness and ensuring that government services are delivered effectively and securely.

Japan’s farewell to floppy disks marks a pivotal moment in the nation’s journey towards technological modernization. Under the leadership of Digital Minister Taro Kono, the country has taken significant steps to phase out obsolete technology and embrace more efficient, secure, and modern systems. This transition not only improves the functionality of government operations but also sets an example for other countries to follow in updating their digital infrastructure.

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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