Better (very) late than never, right?

With such broad and important spheres of society under its jurisdiction, you’d be correct in assuming that Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has a lot of information it needs to organize and maintain. So it’s reassuring to know that a recent revision to the ministry’s protocols is going to undeniably modernize its operations. That doesn’t mean that the new regulations allow for cutting-edge advancements in IT, however, just that the ministry is finally abolishing the required use of antiquated forms of physical media.

You may recall that back at the start of September in 2022, Minister of Digital Affairs Taro Kono, head of Japan’s Digital Agency Cabinet sub-division, pleaded with the various branches of the government to identify and revise ordinances that specify outdated physical media forms for certain types of applications, reporting, and record-keeping. The wheels of government tend to turn especially slowly in Japan, though, and it’s only recently that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has gotten around to doing so in earnest, though. On Monday, METI, as the ministry is also known, announced that as of the end of the 2023 calendar year it has removed 34 ordinances requiring floppy disks to be the method used for submission of data to the ministry, and an unspecified number of ordinances saying that CD-ROMs must be used.

The abolished floppy disk/CD-ROM requirements stretched back several decades, and they weren’t limited to quaint, non-sensitive parts of society either, as the ordinances were related to fields such as gas, electricity, and water supply, mining operations, and aircraft and weapons manufacturing.

The push to end the use of floppy disks within government agencies stems, of course, from two major problems. The first is that a physical media requirement reduces the ability to submit and share data online, hampering operational efficiency and complicating the process of revising or updating the information. Second, it’s extremely difficult to even find floppy disks for sale anymore, as they’ve essentially disappeared from the consumer market.

In his 2022 statement, Kono said that his staff had found approximately 1,900 government ordinances, across a variety of ministries, requiring the use of physical media for data storage. So there’s probably still a long ways to go, but at least METI has started the process.

Source: Impress Watch via Hachima Kiko, Nihon Keizai Shimbun
Top image: Pakutaso
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