Fax machines remain important in Japan because of language and culture
June 8, 2012
TOKYO — In Japan’s businesses and bureaucracies, in home offices and hulking companies, the fax machine is thriving.
Yes, the clunky device has fallen out of favor in so much of the world, a refuge for dust bunnies and stray cover sheets. But it is humming here.
Japanese still fax party invitations, bank documents and shopping orders. Business people call the fax a required communication tool, used for vital messages, often in place of e-mail. In the early hours of last year’s nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, operators informed the government of an emergency seawater injection by dialing up Tokyo and sending a fax.
Japan’s continued fax devotion may be an endearing quirk, what with the country’s reputation as a high-tech playland, all bright lights and flawless trains and chirping micro-devices. But it may also represent a deeper sign of the nation’s inability to change and to accommodate global standards, even as it cedes economic ground to Asian rivals such as China and South Korea.