What? Japan had to declare war on floppy disks? The country’s digital minister, Taro Kono, publicly stated this on Twitter. According to the minister, the Japanese government has too many businesses that require people to submit forms and applications through old devices such as floppy disks, CDs, etc. There are as many as 1900! Now, they’re changing the rules, deprecating floppy disks, and letting everyone submit online. In 2022 (almost 2023), floppy disks have long been the tears of the times. A dignified developed country, known for labels such as the electronics industry, robotics and even cyberculture, is still using this thing?
Floppy disks are still alive in Japan
Yes, you’re not mistaken. In the Japanese government, there is still a need for business partners to transfer data using old-fashioned storage media such as floppy disks and CDs. Recently, there have been several incidents of floppy disk loss in Japan, which proves that this is true. For example, on December 27 last year, the Japanese Metropolitan Police admitted that they had lost the personal data of 38 citizens. These citizens applied for public housing in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward, and the government needed to confirm with the police whether the applicants were affiliated with a criminal group. During the survey, they were transferring applicant data on floppy disks. Unexpectedly, the floppy disk was accidentally lost, and the applicant’s personal information was also lost.
As soon as the incident came out, netizens all over the world were dumbfounded, and some even suspected that it was fake news. Of course, some Japanese netizens also expressed their shock. They didn’t expect that their country’s government agencies are still using this kind of antique. Besides governments, floppy disks are also heavily used by the banking system. A Nikkei news report last year pointed out that Yamagata Bank alone has more than 1,000 customers using floppy disks to transfer employee salary data within a month.
Of course, most of these customers are the government and small and medium-sized enterprises, especially the government. A few days ago, an organization in Japan conducted a small survey of 300 people aged 15 to 29. It turns out that nearly 20% of young people use floppy disks. Yes, they are really “using” them. In contrast, Chinese post-00s don’t know much about floppy disks…
Japanese have something to do with floppy disks
This product was born in 1971. At that time, it was still a full 32 inches. However, for convenience, the size was eventually reduced to 8 inches by IBM. It is the famous Japanese company, Sony, that has really carried it forward. In 1981, Sony launched the classic 3.5-inch disk for the first time, and it was widely used in production. In 1984, Apple’s well-known MAC had a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive.
By the 1990s, floppy disks were all the rage, and in 1996 there were 5 billion floppy disks in use. But soon, the easily damaged floppy disk with only 1.44MB of memory was quickly replaced by larger and more reliable products (such as USB flash drives, etc.).
Sony stops making the all-time favourite
However, back in 2011, Sony finally stops making floppy disks. Now, eleven years later, Japanese society is still so reliant on floppy disks, maybe Sony executives didn’t expect it. Floppy disks are small in memory and low in efficiency, so why they are not abandoned? The reason, some local netizens think, is because the floppy disk is more secure. Its storage space is very small, and most viruses are larger than the disk can accommodate.
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Of course, there are also more succinct ideas-
Because it is rarely used, even if it is picked up, it is difficult for the other party to find a special reading device. In the end, it can only fall back on the government and institutions. But perhaps more importantly, many users themselves are reluctant to change their habits.
The Japanese bureaucracy has always been more insistent on the use of floppy disks. A government worker responsible for the management of public funds has repeatedly stressed the reliability of the floppy disk to the Nikkei, saying that it “has almost never been damaged or lost data.”
Not just government bureaucrats. There are also technical engineers in the financial industry who pointed out that they were trying to persuade customers to change storage media 20 years ago, but they could not persuade them to say anything. For service agencies such as banks and governments, if some customers insist that mailing floppy disks is more secure than network transmission, as service providers, they can only be “downward compatible” and keep the corresponding equipment. As a result, floppy disks have been “surviving” in Japan to this day.
Floppy disks are easy to discontinue
Some people still consider practical factors and propose to abandon floppy disks. For example, the discontinuation of the floppy disk reading device will make it impossible to process the data. Existing banks feel that the cost of reading and returning the old disks is very high. Some banks have already moved away from it, moving data to other online storage formats. Also, some government agencies are also starting this digital transformation, although they may not be fully discontinued until 2026.
After taking office, Taro Kono, the resolute Minister of Digitalization, has been urging his colleagues in public to “walk into a developed society”. Finally, in the past two days, the word “declaration of war” was officially used on social networking sites to start a comprehensive operation of discarding these disks. The Digital Office will push for more administrative procedures to be online instead of sending data by mailing disks, CDs, U disks, etc. In addition, they will urge departments and agencies to self-examine and plan to issue more specific policies by the end of the year.
Antiques like flip phones are equally popular
It appears that just as the Japanese get really old, they also love to stay in the past. Floppy disks are not the only ‘antique’ still in use in Japan. For example, some small and medium enterprises and government agencies are still sending documents by fax instead of E-mail. When someone makes an e-commerce delivery, they must stamp the seal of each person in charge on the list in the courier. In addition, the monitor is accustomed to using the old VGA interface, and the notebook insists on using the network cable interface to access the Internet…This situation is not uncommon in Japan.
Also, the websites of some international companies change their designs to look like the last century as soon as they arrive in Japan. For example, Yahoo, an important local portal, is completely in the style of the 00s. Station B, the Japanese brother station niconico, still has the taste of many years ago:
While the old flip phones are almost obsolete globally, not in Japan. There are several new flip machines on the market every year from companies like Sharp, KDDI and others. In schools, teachers above the age of 40 hardly use smartphones. They all wear flip phones around their necks, which they find quite convenient. In addition, the school office is also relatively “original”. As of 2017, there was no electronic course selection system, but a paper application for course selection.