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Japan declares ‘war’ on floppy disks

In a determined effort to bring the government into the digital age, a Japanese minister declared war on outdated technology, even the humble floppy disc.

Nearly 2,000 government processes still depend on the use of the obsolete storage devices by the business community.

Taro Kono, Minister of Digital Affairs, stated that existing regulations will be updated to allow users to use online services.

He also wants to get rid of obsolete technology like the CD and MiniDiscs.

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On Tuesday, Mr Kono said that he would quickly review these practices at a Tokyo news conference.

According to Japanese reports, the minister stated that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had offered his full support.

“Where can one buy a floppy disc these days?” Mr Kono joked.

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During his speech, he also pledged to get rid the fax machine.

Later, he tweeted: “There are approximately 1,900 government procedures that require [the] business community use discs, which i.e. floppy disk, CD, MD to submit applications and other forms.

“(The) digital agency’s role is to modify those regulations so that you can use them online.”

According to the Japan Times, a committee discovered nearly 1,900 laws, government, and ministerial provisions stipulating specific storage devices (including floppy disks) that are used for administrative purposes and keeping data.

To reduce bureaucracy, the government may abolish this requirement.

Kono stated that any opposition from ministers and agencies would be “pushed to the ground”,

Image Japan’s Minister for Digital Affairs Tarokono Photo: AP

After 30 years of production, Japanese technology giant Sony stopped making floppy disks in 2011.

Their legacy lives on, and the square-shaped device is still used frequently as the “save symbol”.

It was discovered six years ago that a system used for controlling some of America’s nuclear bombers and ballistic missiles was running from a 40-year old computer with floppy disks.

A Pentagon spokeswoman stated that an upgrade to a secure alternative digital option was planned for 2017. This would “address outdated concerns”.

Lt Col Valerie Henderson stated that the system is still in use because it works.

After being lost for over three decades, original art by Andy Warhol was found on floppy discs in 2014.

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