In a move signalling the end of an era, Japan has officially abolished the requirement for citizens and businesses to submit digital documents on floppy disks and CD-ROMs.

The announcement, made by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry last week, marks a significant departure from the longstanding practice that persisted until recently. Taro Kano, Japan’s Minister for Digital Transformation, had previously declared a “war on floppy disks” in August 2022, indicating the government’s intention to modernise its document submission processes.

Under the previous regulations, nearly 2,000 government procedures mandated the use of floppy disks, CDs, and Minidisks for document submission. However, following the ministry’s announcement, 34 ordinances have been amended to eliminate the requirement for floppy disks.

The use of floppy disks dates back to the early days of computing, with IBM introducing the first floppy disks in 1971. Initially, they were revolutionary in facilitating the transfer of data and software updates for mainframe computers. However, with advancements in technology, particularly the introduction of rewritable CDs in the 1990s, floppy disks gradually fell out of favour.

Despite their decline in popularity, floppy disks persisted in certain industries, such as medicine, aviation, textiles, and plastic moulding manufacturing, due to reliance on legacy systems. Japan, in particular, remained an outlier, with a significant portion of the country still utilising floppy disks, especially within the public sector.

The decision to abolish the requirement for floppy disks signifies Japan’s commitment to modernisation and embracing digital transformation. As the country enters a new era, characterised by rapid technological advancements, the move reflects a step towards streamlining bureaucratic processes and embracing digital efficiency.

While the use of floppy disks may still linger in some sectors, the abolition of mandatory submission requirements marks a significant milestone in Japan’s journey towards embracing digital innovation. As the nation transitions away from outdated practices, it paves the way for a more streamlined and digitally-enabled future.