Just the fax, Kono.

After a longest term in office in the history of Japan, Shinzo Abe has stepped down as Prime Minister and the position has been given to his chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, or “Uncle Reiwa” as he’s known to a lot of teens.

▼ You might remember Suga as the guy who held the calligraphy that announced the name of the current Reiwa Era

Wikipedia/Cabinet Secretariat

All in all it was a very underwhelming transition of power, with very little changing or expected to change as a result. However, there was a cabinet shuffle that ensued, during which former Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono was moved into the position of Minister for Administrative Reform.

He appears to have taken the role with gusto as he has already announced a major overhaul to the way the administration is run: no more fax machines!

▼ She seems happy about it.


I think we’re finally at the point were some readers might even be too young to remember fax machines, but these are essentially copiers that send the copies over a phone line to another machine anywhere else in the world which prints it out. That sounds impressive until you remember a little thing called the Internet that made faxes obsolete, like a good 20 years ago.

While much of the world turned their backs on these machines long ago, for some strange reason Japan has continued to cling to them, and they are still frequently used in business and government today. However, Minister Kono has had enough as of now, and promises to end the use of these devices in the near future.

That being said, stopping fax dependency isn’t as easy as buying a scanner and booting up a computer… I guess? According to Minister Kono, the real culprit behind faxes’ longevity in Japan is the hanko.


These personalized seals are often used on official documents in places where other cultures might use a signature. Essentially they are just a wooden, plastic, or rubber stamp that is registered with the government as the legally-binding official seal of a person or organization.

Kono says that first the use of the hanko must be done away with. Then and only then can they begin to address fax machines. Not only that, but once hanko are out of the way, he hopes to make the entire government paperless as well.

Although most comments online understand the uselessness of fax machines – because they’re, you know, online – some are skeptical that it can really be gotten rid of so easily.

“Other countries are surprised we still use faxes. They think it’s a waste of paper and time.”
“I was shocked when I heard that coronavirus cases are counted by fax.”
“I think it’s good to keep fax available as an option at least. It might come in handy during a disaster situation. A telephone line might reach an area where an optical cable is broken.”
“I work at a major transportation company and we don’t use fax anymore, but it’s still there in case of emergency.”
“But what will happen to the job of the guy who has to count all the coronavirus case faxes?”
“Most modern Japanese businesses actually don’t use faxes, but almost every business has a customer that still uses faxes and has to keep it around for them.”
“I think this shows the importance of younger people in government.”

At 57, Kono isn’t exactly a spring chicken but he is considerably younger than many other high-ranking members of government and appears to know how to use the Internet well enough, which makes him vastly more tech-minded than our head of Olympic cybersecurity who never touched a computer and former PM who pays his Twitter bills every month.

And with systems for digital hanko signatures already available for the rapidly growing number of Japanese teleworkers, it looks like the fax machine might finally see its end in Japan, and not a decade too soon.

Source: Nippon TV News 24, My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso
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