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Japan will no longer require floppy disks for submitting some official documents
  Posted by: Engadget on Jan 29th, 2024 9:20 PM

Japan is an innovative country that leads the way on many technological fronts. But the wheels of bureaucracy often turn incredibly slowly there. So much so, that the government still requires businesses to provide information on floppy disks and CD-ROMs when they submit certain official documents.

That's starting to change. Back in 2022, Minister of Digital Affairs Taro Kono urged various branches of the government to stop requiring businesses to submit information on outdated forms of physical media. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is one of the first to make the switch. "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 said last week, according to The Register.

After this calendar year, METI will no longer require businesses to submit data on floppy disks under 34 ordinances. The same goes for CD-ROMs when it comes to an unspecified number of procedures. There's still quite some way to go before businesses can stop using either format entirely, however.

Kono's staff identified some 1,900 protocols across several government departments that still require the likes of floppy disks, CD-ROMs and even MiniDiscs. The physical media requirements even applied to key industries such as utility suppliers, mining operations and aircraft and weapons manufacturers.

There are a couple of main reasons why there's a push to stop using floppy disks, as SoraNews24 points out. One major factor is that floppy disks can be hard to come by. Sony, the last major manufacturer, stopped selling them in 2011. Another is that some data types just won't fit on a floppy disk. A single photo can easily be larger than the format's 1.4MB storage capacity.

There are some other industries that still rely on floppy disks. Some older planes need them for avionics, as do and some aging medical devices. It also took the US government until 2019 to stop using floppy disks to coordinate nuclear weapon launches.

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