There is many a time where I will look at Japan to see what the vision for tomorrow is. I mean, Honda and Sony, two Japanese companies, teamed up to make a car that can be driven by a DualSense controller. Granted, it won’t ship with the capability.
However, there are some things that Japan could use some catching up on. No, I’m not talking about how the West perceives their culture. I’m talking about floppy disks. Thankfully, the practice of using them is slowly coming to and end.
Floppy disks in 2024?
The Japanese government apparently still requires businesses to share information via a floppy disk or a CD-ROM when they submit official documents. This seems like an odd practice all around. I want to say here in the US, some agencies may require paper documents. But if it isn’t paper, it can be submitted online. I don’t think anyone was submitting documents on physical media.
Initially, I can see it as something they did to say “We’re advanced!” when looking at everyone still printing on paper, but the wheels of government must have been ground to a halt there. While everyone embraced the internet, Japan took the Nintendo route and decided to get to the internet eventually.
Seriously, Taro Kono, the Japanese Minister of Digital Affairs, started urging branches of government to halt the practice of using outdated physical media. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) lept at the opportunity.
Under the current law, there are many provisions stipulating the use of specific recording media such as floppy disks regarding application and notification methods.”
METI told The Register
In 2025, METI won’t require businesses to use floppy disks and CD-ROMs for a number of ordinances. It’ll still be a while before the practice is fazed out completely. Kono’s team has identified nearly 1,900 protocols across many of the government’s departments that will still need to use physical media including MiniDiscs. These requirements apply to key industries like utility suppliers, mining, and aircraft and weapons manufacturers.
A big reason for this push to stop using floppy disks is because its becoming harder to find them. Sony was the last manufacturer making them, but they stopped selling them in 2011. Also, with your average floppy disk size being 1.4 MB, something as simple as a picture couldn’t fit on them nowadays.
But, while we sit here and joke on Japan for taking so long, we must also be reminded that the US stopped using floppy disks to coordinate nuclear weapon launches in 2019.
I’ll leave you to ponder that.