Data for 2021 investigation was provided on format most people stopped using more than a decade ago.

Usually, when you hear about an organization having lost data, it actually means that the files have been deleted or corrupted. But in the case of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police, this week they discovered that they really don’t know where the files containing personal information for over three dozen people are.

So why don’t they just run a database search to pinpoint the data they’re trying to track down? Because the files aren’t in a database – they’re stored on floppy disks.

In the latest example of how Japan is both a country that loves shiny new gadgets yet is also frequently willing to employ an if-it’s-not-broken-don’t-fix-it policy towards sunsetting technology, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s Organized Crime Countermeasures Section 3 has lost two floppy disks containing personal information regarding 38 men, between the ages of 20 and 89, who applied for municipal housing in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward. The disks were provided by Meguro Ward as part of an investigation into whether or not any of the applicants had ties to criminal organizations such as the yakuza. The first floppy disk was provided to the police for an inquiry in in December of 2019, and the second in February of this year.

▼ And here we thought we were old-school with our Famicom/NES-equipped employee break room.

It hasn’t been publicly specified whether the disks were of the 5¼ or 3½-inch size, but either format was long out of use by those dates. It’s also unclear when the files were initially created, as the police may have been investigating individuals whose Meguro housing applications were made and recorded several years ago, back when floppy disks were a more widespread choice of storage medium.

In any case, while Meguro Ward gave both disks to the police, in July they noticed that they hadn’t gotten either back. When they requested their return, Organized Crime Countermeasures Section 3 checked the locked storage room the disks were supposed to be in, only for them to be nowhere to be found. “We deeply apologize to the 38 involved individuals for this grave error,” said Organized Crime Countermeasures Section 3 chief Hiroshi Miyamoto in a statement. “We will provide thorough guidance to our personnel to ensure that this sort of incident does not occur again.”

The files contained the individuals’ names and dates of birth, and none of the men were found to have any connections to organized crime. Thankfully, as of this time, no leaks or misuse of the information have been confirmed, and there remains a possibility that the disks weren’t stolen, but accidentally thrown out by someone within the department who, from their obsolete format, assumed that they were trash that was no longer needed. The 38 affected individuals can hopefully also take some comfort in the fact that even if the disks are still floating around out there somewhere, whoever stumbles across them won’t be able to get at their personal information without a PC with a floppy disk drive, something that fewer and fewer people have access to.

Nevertheless, the police are still searching for the disks and trying to figure out how they went missing. No word on whether or not investigators are coordinating their efforts via brand-new flip phones.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko, NHK News Web
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s pretty sure he still knows where his Bubblegum Crisis VHS tapes are.