High-Tech Japan Struggles to Ditch Floppy Disks

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(Newser)

Japan may be known for its tech savvy, but government offices still use the humble floppy disk for data storage. As a result, the nation’s digital minister has announced that he is declaring “war” on the technology, which first surfaced in the 1960s, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The minister, Taro Kano, complained that nearly 2,000 government procedures still require the disks. Just how outdated are they? The common 3.5-inch variety stores a mere 1.44 megabytes of data, notes Ars Technica, which might have been impressive back in the 1980s. Today, it would take more than 20,000 disks to equal the storage capacity of a common memory stick, per the BBC.


“We will be reviewing these practices swiftly,” Kono said in a press conference, per Bloomberg. “Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?” He has a point there, given that Sony stopped making them in 2011, notes Ars Technica. Before Americans get too smug, Bloomberg points out that the Defense Department phased out floppies only in 2019, and up until then they were used to help track the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The Guardian isn’t too sure Kono’s push will succeed, noting that he has been struggling to ditch two other relics of Japanese office life—the traditional hanko seal used to sign documents, as well as the fax machine. (Read more Japan stories.)

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