In 2011, Sony Corporation discontinued the production of 3.5-inch floppy disks, which had been used for decades as inexpensive data storage for document flow. Recently, the Japanese government discarded the requirement for citizens and companies to submit files on these disks during interactions with governmental agencies, as reported by The Register, citing local media.
Journey Towards Digitalisation
Taro Kono, the Minister working to reform this bureaucratic system, has been advocating for these changes in legislation since last year. Consequently, Japanese citizens and organizations filing various applications are no longer required to provide electronic copies of documents on any physical means, be it floppy disks or optical discs. Files can now be sent to cloud storage through electronic communication channels, eliminating the need to hand over physical data carriers to officials.
Japan’s Technological Transition
For Japan, which did not recognize digital signatures in many areas of document flow even before the pandemic, this abandonment of floppy disks represents significant progress. This doesn’t mean such conservatism is unique to Japan, however. For instance, the U.S defense department discontinued the use of outdated 8-inch floppy disks only in 2019, despite the fact that they had not been industrially produced for decades. While new 3.5-inch floppy disks can still be found for sale from old stocks, and some companies even specialize in supplying such products. These data carriers are used in industrial and medical equipment, musical instruments, hence there is still some demand though it is steadily declining.