'We have won the war on floppy disks!' Japan finally declares independence from floppy media

High angle close up view of orange laptop and a floppy disk on green background
(Image credit: Getty Images | Javier Zayas Photography)

Japan has now officially "won the war on floppy disks", having finally scrapped the many regulations governing their use in and by the government. It might not have been a war you were aware of, but it's been waging for over two years. 

Being just shy of 30 years old, for me, floppy disks feature in memories of a bygone era, where disks could be inserted into your machine with a satisfying thunk, perhaps to boot up Doom or another classic DOS game. Those memories are hazy, though, and many of you might have no memory of floppy disks at all. 

Unless you're living in Japan, that is, because until a few days ago, the Japanese government was still using them for all its systems. Now, according to Reuters (via Sweclockers), thanks to the efforts of Japan's Digital Minister Taro Kono, Japan has declared victory against the aged storage device.

Floppy disks—those beautifully square, pleasurably solid, plastic-and-metal disks that I wouldn't entirely resent the return of—were popular in the 80s and 90s for creating and distributing software. (For our younger readers, there's a graphic of one above. Doesn't it look lovely?)

Peak Storage

SATA, NVMe M.2, and PCIe SSDs on blue background

(Image credit: Future)

Best SSD for gaming: The best speedy storage today.
Best NVMe SSD: Compact M.2 drives.
Best external hard drives: Huge capacities for less.
Best external SSDs: Plug-in storage upgrades.

Floppy disks were (nay, are) kinda cool. They work a little like cassette tapes, but with the magnetisable material that stores data on it running in concentric circles atop a spinning disk housed inside plastic casing. However, floppy disks have incredibly limited storage capacity. So, as software got more complex and capacious in the 90s, companies had to start spreading their software across multiple disks, which became increasingly inconvenient for both manufacturers and consumers.

Long story short, although floppy disks stuck around for a while for firmware updates and the likes, people moved on and started to use newer and more capacious storage devices such as CDs. By the mid- to late-noughties, they were nigh-on obsolete for serious storage in the West.

Over in Japan, however, things panned out differently. Government regulations and systems didn't adapt to evolving technology. For example, the BBC reports that Japanese workplaces "continued to favour fax machines over emails." Over the last few years, however, Digital Minister Taro Kono has been trying to get Japan to move onto newer, better technologies.

Kono's efforts to move on from such outdated technologies included a 2021 declaration of "war" on floppy disks, and he's now finally announced victory for Japan, telling Reuters, "We have won the war on floppy disks on June 28!" The specific nature of the victory? That would be the scrapping of all but one of the 1,034 regulations governing the use of floppy disks.

While it's certainly a victory for Japan (not to mention a peculiarly fitting tale of independence to be reporting on 4 July), part of me can't help but feel sad that the country's waving goodbye to those gloriously chonky disks. No, I'm not getting emotional, you are!

Jacob Fox
Hardware Writer

Jacob got his hands on a gaming PC for the first time when he was about 12 years old. He swiftly realised the local PC repair store had ripped him off with his build and vowed never to let another soul build his rig again. With this vow, Jacob the hardware junkie was born. Since then, Jacob's led a double-life as part-hardware geek, part-philosophy nerd, first working as a Hardware Writer for PCGamesN in 2020, then working towards a PhD in Philosophy for a few years (result pending a patiently awaited viva exam) while freelancing on the side for sites such as TechRadar, Pocket-lint, and yours truly, PC Gamer. Eventually, he gave up the ruthless mercenary life to join the world's #1 PC Gaming site full-time. It's definitely not an ego thing, he assures us.