Despite High-Tech, Japan Sticks to the Fax Machine


Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. It takes a global lead in producing robots and providing its population with broadband Internet. But you may be surprised to find out that a remnant of old-fashioned technology – the fax machine – still remains popular in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The Japanese buy over a million fax machines every year. Communications experts say that the machine has a long tradition in Japan and offices and businesses simply do not want to get rid of it. Even half of Japans private homes own a fax machine.


One of the reasons for sticking to a traditional form of communication may be the fact that the Japanese population is growing older, and elderly workers and businessmen are afraid of taking on something new. In certain areas of communication Japan has been overtaken by rivals China and South Korea.

Many companies and government offices still rely on the paper fax because they think having a physical copy of a document is more secure and it cannot get lost. Even banks use faxes because their customers want them to. In an age of computer-hacking and cybercrime people simply think that faxes are safer.

When an earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan in 2011 many office buildings were destroyed and company owners bought fax machines to replace the ones that were damaged by the tragic event.


In most cases faxes are hand-written, because the Japanese language has over 2,000 symbols and characters and many people find it quicker to write than to type.

Fax machines became as common as TV sets in the 1980s. Back then, the country produced over 90% of the world’s machines, most of which were exported all over the world. 30 years later some Japanese still don’t have an email address, but chances are they have a fax machine.



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  • advanced = highly developed
  • broadband = very fast
  • business = company
  • chances are = here: they probably will have
  • character = sign
  • common = ordinary, normal
  • customer = person who buys things
  • cybercrime = criminal activity using a computer
  • earthquake = a sudden movement of the earth’s surface that causes a lot of damage
  • elderly = old
  • get rid of = to do away with something; not have it any more
  • global lead = to be number one in the world
  • overtake = pass, be better than
  • owner = a person who something belongs to
  • popular = much-liked
  • provide = give, offer
  • rely = depend on, need
  • remain = stay; still is
  • remnant = leftover, remains, what is left of
  • replace = put in something’s place
  • secure = safe
  • stick = stay with
  • strike-struck = hit
  • take on = have, introduce