Snippet: Japan’s Love Affair with the Fax Machine ☍

Shared on October 9, 2021

Hansun Hsiung for The Conversation:

Fast forward to 2021, and Japan’s high-tech image is peeling away. “Japan needs a software update”, the New York Times tells us. The country’s octogenarian IT minister, Naokazu Takemoto, has been mocked for his inability to maintain a functioning website. Japan, it seems, is lagging behind in the global race to digitise, despite being the home of Panasonic and Mitsubishi, of bullet trains and neon-lit urban life.

And nowhere is this better symbolised than in the country’s ongoing love affair with the fax machine. The 20th-century technology is still a fixture in many Japanese offices, where there remains an insistence on paper documents bearing personal seals. But rather than asking why Japanese businesses have patiently stood by their buzzing fax machines, perhaps we should really be asking: why do we find it so surprising? Why do representations equating Japan to high technologies persist so tenaciously, despite evidence to the contrary?

While fax machines haven’t gone away entirely here, it has always fascinated me how they were something that seemed extremely common in Japan even recently.

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