Japan's government wants to say "sayonara" to paper communication. But local offices still love their fax machines and won't give them up.
Even though many Japanese employees were allowed to work from home in order to slow down the spread of the virus, whenever an important document had to be sent to another branch or tax forms filled, they had to return to the office to send and receive faxes.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s cabinet hasn’t been sitting watching this absurd situation unfold idly. As part of a nationwide push for all government bodies to go fully digital, the administration formed an “anti-fax reform” cabinet tasked with banishing the fax machine from Tokyo’s bureaucratic district of Kasumigaseki, as a start. But this common-sense policy has been met with surprising backlash.
Hundreds of government offices banded together, arguing that it would be “impossible” to replace the fax machine. According to local newspaper Hokkaido Shimbun, banning faxes poses serious security risks and causes “anxiety over the communication environment,” it quoted pro-fax officer clerks saying.
Update 5 Feb 2022: A lively discussion has developed around this article on the Hacker News Forum.
Users @uniqueid and @ogogmad blame the writing system:
A big reason is of course the possibility of using arbitrarily complex letters or symbols, thus allowing Kanji (and Hanzi) to be used.https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30208053
User @froh responds with a tu quoque:
In reading through the comments, I wonder which generalizations can be drawn about the US habit of paying by cheque. This paper slip that is covering just .1% of all cashless transactions in Germany these days.https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30209682
But the majority of comments appears to put the ubiquity for faxing in Japan on the need to transmit the hanko seal.