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Japan declares victory in effort to end government use of floppy disks

Japan declares victory in effort to end government use of floppy disks
Taro Kono speaks during a debate session held by Japan National Press Club, Sept 18, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
PHOTO: Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via Reuters file

TOKYO — Japan's government has finally eliminated the use of floppy disks in all its systems, two decades since their heyday, reaching a long-awaited milestone in a campaign to modernise the bureaucracy.

By the middle of last month, the Digital Agency had scrapped all 1,034 regulations governing their use, except for one environmental stricture related to vehicle recycling.

"We have won the war on floppy disks on June 28!" Digital Minister Taro Kono, who has been vocal about wiping out fax machines and other analogue technology in government, told Reuters in a statement on Wednesday (July 3).

The Digital Agency was set up during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, when a scramble to roll out nationwide testing and vaccination revealed that the government still relied on paper filing and outdated technology.

A charismatic figure with 2.5 million followers on X, Kono formerly headed the defence and foreign ministries as well as the Covid-19 vaccine deployment, taking up his current role in August 2022 after a failed bid to become prime minister.

Japan's digitisation effort has run into numerous snags, however. A contact-tracing app flopped during the pandemic and adoption of the government's My Number digital identification card has been slower than it hoped, amid repeated data mishaps.

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