Japan finally wins the “war on floppy disks” after decades of reliance on the outdated storage medium – but why did it take so long to phase them out?

Floppy disks pictured lined up against a red colored backdrop.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Japan only recently ended its reliance on floppy disks, according to Digital Minister, Taro Kono, despite the technology having been outdated for many years.

Kono said that Japan had “won the war” on floppy disks in a statement to Reuters after the country completed a process of removing over 1,000 regulations mandating the government's use of the technology.

Typically, people have been asked to submit documents for use on government systems via floppy disks despite their low storage capacity. 

This mission was undertaken by Japan’s Digital Agency, a body of the government designed to update analog government processes to digital ones. The Digital Agency declared its mission to rid Japan of floppy disks in 2021, the same year it was established. 

Floppy disks aren’t the only dated pieces of tech in Japan’s infrastructure either, with Kono having also expressed his commitment to eliminating the use of fax machines within the Japanese government.

Japan has been resistant to such digital transformation efforts, though, with planned moves away from fax met with resistance back in 2021, according to reporting by The Guardian

After a cabinet body announced plans to phase out the hardware in favor of emails, hundreds of government officials declared that the process would be too difficult and the government was forced to abandon its mission. 

Japan’s unending love for floppy disks 

In the case of Japan, the government has found it difficult to put a stop to the use of floppy disks owing to an over-reliance on the technology in the country's public sector, and this has proven to be a common barrier to broader digital transformation efforts.

The transfer of data, for example, is an issue specific to floppy disks. As the disks are so old, modern systems would struggle to read the data and allow for the necessary transfer to a new data storage device

Research suggests that over 80% of organizations globally are being hampered by legacy tech to such an extent that digital transformation efforts are being restricted. 

Research shows that public services are often among the worst affected by issues with legacy tech. For example, civil servants in the UK claimed that dated tech was one of the key reasons that the government's digital transformation efforts were being held back.   

Floppy disks have been out of fashion for decades 

Though Japan has now completed its journey away from floppy disks, it’s done so at a far slower speed than most other nations, with the technology rarely used globally in 2024. 


Sony ceased production of floppy disks over a decade ago in 2011 after several years of gradually dwindling sales and the burgeoning growth of replacement technologies like  USB storage devices.

Despite its practical obsolescence, though, there are arguments to be made for the ancient storage system, such as for hobbyists and tech enthusiasts who use the disks to preserve old content.  

George Fitzmaurice
Staff Writer

George Fitzmaurice is a staff writer at ITPro, ChannelPro, and CloudPro, with a particular interest in AI regulation, data legislation, and market development. After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in English Language and Literature, he undertook an internship at the New Statesman before starting at ITPro. Outside of the office, George is both an aspiring musician and an avid reader.