Japan is suffering to give up floppy disks and fax machines

Tokyo — With its azure ocean perspectives and terraced rice paddies, the town of Hamada, inhabitants 50,000, is a long way from Japan’s primary city facilities of Tokyo and Osaka. However Hamada isn’t any virtual slouch. Identical to towns in different complicated countries, Hamada collects taxes, medical insurance premiums and social safety contributions from citizens’ financial institution accounts through sending bill orders on-line to native monetary establishments.

However in some respects, Hamada’s transactions are a throwback to the twentieth century. Considered one of 8 native banks the town management does enterprise with insists that fee directions be passed over bodily, on floppy disks. Here is what a floppy disk seems like, for somebody beneath a undeniable age:

A document photograph displays a girl keeping a brand new Fujifilm 200MB capability 3.5″ floppy disk and force on the corporate’s administrative center in Tokyo, January 28, 2000.


The mylar-coated magnetic disks invented through IBM in 1967 have in large part been consigned to museums within the advanced international. They have compatibility a trifling megabyte of knowledge — sufficient for a couple of seconds of video.

“Floppy disk manufacturing ended 10 years in the past, and we have now steered that financial institution to log on,” a spokeswoman for the town’s accounting division instructed CBS News. “However they hold to their previous device.”

Even one of the crucial banks that experience long gone virtual, she stated, nonetheless be expecting all transactions to be showed through fax. (If you are now not acquainted with floppy disks, fax machines are… smartly, they are even older.)

Record photograph of an individual the use of a fax system.


However amid the force to transport into the twenty first century, Hamada isn’t on my own. A survey previous this yr through the San-in Chuo Shimpo newspaper discovered that Hamada was once amongst 9 cities in Shimane Prefecture nonetheless the use of floppies. All instructed, greater than 1/2 of the localities in Shimane and in neighboring Tottori, each west of Tokyo, nonetheless use floppy disks.

The cities’ adherence to a half-century-old information garage way displays the abnormal endurance of out of date era in Japan. And the Luddism is rarely restricted to the a long way corners of the rustic.

The Nikkei monetary newspaper reported that a few of Tokyo’s 23 wards are halfway via virtual conversions, hastened through primary banks charging stiff dealing with charges for hardware-based transactions.

A gross sales clerk at Seiwa Electrical, an equipment store in western Tokyo packed to the gills with the latest-model fridges, washing machines and air conditioners, confirmed CBS News certainly one of their hottest-selling merchandise: A Panasonic fax system that retails for $189.

“Seniors find it irresistible,” she stated. “They are able to order mikan oranges from the farm and use the tool to make copies.”

The store nonetheless will get a number of mileage out of its personal fax system, too, as a result of a few of its providers merely dislike doing enterprise on-line.

The reluctance to phase with previous {hardware} illustrates the hindrances for Japan’s Virtual Company, which was once established precisely 12 months in the past this month. Led through top ministerial aspirant and outspoken Virtual Minister Taro Kono, the company is preventing to consign the floppy disk, in conjunction with different {hardware} like CD-ROMs, DVDs and USB drives, to the dustbin.

Kono stated a overview discovered with regards to 2,000 govt procedures nonetheless require business-related packages to be submitted on floppy disks or different bodily media. Amongst different issues, Japan’s foot-dragging within the virtual shift is hindering adoption of a countrywide virtual ID device, and degrading administrative center potency.

Floppies and different garage {hardware} stay so pervasive on the earth’s third-largest financial system that they have even featured in some notorious circumstances, comparable to ultimate yr, when the Tokyo Metropolitan Police misplaced two floppy disks containing non-public information on 38 males who had been making use of for public housing.

In June, a contractor for the town of Amagasaki, in western Japan, went on an after-work bender. When he got here to, in the street, his bag — containing USB flash drives with information on with regards to 1/2 1,000,000 citizens, together with their checking account main points — was gone. The USBs grew to become up later at an rental complicated.

That was once in a while after the city of Abu received notoriety for mistakenly sending its entire COVID relief fund to a 24-year-old resident ultimate spring.

That switch was once despatched digitally. However there was once a floppy disk backup. 

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