Japan’s digital technology minister, Taro Kono, has promised to scrap laws requiring the use of floppy disks and CDs when sending data to the country’s government.
The plans were announced at the 5th Digital Society Concept Conference in Japan, where a strategy for future digital government services was outlined. Japan intends to follow the well-trodden path of issuing national identification numbers – in this case called MyNumber – to its citizens so that they can access a variety of government services.
But since such services by their very nature involve uploading data to government agencies, the minister has initiated a review of the laws that regulate this process of submitting information. This effort identified more than 1,900 regulations that define how data can be shared with the government, and as this document explains, many require the use of floppy disks or CDs. New-fangled methods, such as uploading information via the Internet, are not described and are therefore technically prohibited.
He is not the first to try to give Japan a dose of digital transformation. In 2021, former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga promised to reduce the use of stamps and faxes. But Suga’s time in the top job was short and his digital agenda was not fulfilled.
While the rules requiring the use of floppy disks are undoubtedly archaic, Japan is not alone in requiring its citizens to use outdated technology. Just last year, South Korea banned the use of ActiveX controls on some government websites, sending Microsoft’s late-1990s push against Java to a well-deserved rest.