Taro Kono, Japan’s newly appointed Minister of Digital Affairs, has received the full support of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in his declaration of ‘war’ against outdated storage mediums plaguing Japanese government offices.
Kono declared his ‘war’ on obsolete technology in a tweet on Wednesday, naming outdated storage mediums such as floppy disks and CDs.
“There are about 1900 government procedures that requires business community to use discs, i.e. floppy disc, CD, MD, etc to submit applications and other forms,” Kono wrote. “Digital Agency is to change those regulations so you can use online.”
At the government’s digital task force presentation on Tuesday, the group noted legal hurdles as one reason behind the difficulties of taking on modern technologies such as cloud storage. As part of its initiative to upgrade government technology, the task force will reportedly review the provisions and issue an announcement by the end of this year.
Kono, an outspoken critic of old-fashioned, bureaucracy-related practices, has tried to stop the use of fax machines and hanko, a red stamp used to sign official documents such as marriage certificates, when he was Japan’s administrative reform minister between 2020 and 2021. However, despite his efforts, fax machines and hanko are still being used today.
“I’m looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still plan to do that,” Kono, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who voters have regarded as a contender to be a prime minister, said during Tuesday’s press conference.
International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) introduced the first floppy disks to the world as 8-inch disks in 1971. The storage medium shrunk in size over time to become the 3.5-inch disks commonly used in the 1980s and 1990s.
Sony, the last company in the world that manufactured floppy disks, announced in April 2010 that they would stop producing the storage medium in March 2011.
“Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?” Kono told reporters
on Tuesday. “We will change [these rules] promptly.”
In December, Tokyo police reportedly lost two floppy disks containing the personal information of 38 people who had applied for public housing in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward.