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Fax machines holding on, especially in Japan

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40 Comments
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Japan is the land of the lost...

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Japan is land of love! Even if it's subject is oldfashioned fax machine. Whatever, technical geeks, communication geeks, vintage geeks and people all around the world feels this way.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Another issue that keeps fax machines popular in Japan is that generating Japanese text on a computer is not easy to do. It takes a lot of practice, especially generating the right kanji character. As such, it's just easier to write out the message by hand and just fax it.

0 ( +2 / -3 )

I disagree Ray. I find using a computer when writing in Japanese is far easier as you can easily select the proper kanji which often fades from my mind when writing it on paper.

How come no mention of an electronic signature? I use them for many things.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is all because a hanko is needed on all documents, and since a hanko is necessary, there must be paper documents to bear the hanko. Sorry to say, but this is absurdly primitive, and a hanko is no more secure than a simple signature. And in America and Europe these days we can use electronic signatures.

As a business person in Japan, it is hard to keep track of all the stamps I need. Each office needs at least three stamps, and people working there have their own stamps as well. I can't simply open and account online or do a transaction online in Japan like I can in other countries. I have to have the documents sent to me to be stamped, and send them back, or I have to take my stamps to the bank where government office and stamp the documents there. And if that isn't bad enough, I first have to go to a government office to get a document verifying that my stamp is currently registered, and I need to get new documents every three months!

Absurd, primitive, stupid, there aren't enough words to use in my rant. But it keeps the fax machine and paper companies in business, and at 300 yen per hanko registration which must be renewed every three months, it is a revenue generator for the government, however much precious time it wastes.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

@sangetsu: Dont forget the waste of paper. The amount of paper being wasted in Japan is absurd.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Once a fax is sent it is there physically on paper.

Sent by emails and they can get lost.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

My "Tex" machine gives me drawings, like maps - in areas with GPS coverage problems, worth more than a thousand words! BTW I hate using Japanese keyboards...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

BTW I hate using Japanese keyboards...

If you're typing Japanese, they are irreplaceable.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yeah, there's hardly any take up whatsoever of electronic signatures here..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese consumers and SoHos were collaborating "online" way in advance of the internet, and the public sector seems hell-bent on keeping the fax anomaly alive.

at 300 yen per hanko registration... it is a revenue generator for the government

The cost per transaction of issuing an inkan shoumeisho is far more than the ¥300 charged.

This process robs taxpayers of hard-earned income, everyone of precious time, and sucks the very life out of the permanently shored bitless civil servants.

Failure to deregulate keeps us stuck at a point in the value chain that's grossly incommensurate with the country's abilities.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"It is really impossible to intercept fax transmissions. Documents cannot be manipulated"

This is the main reason that many Americans are simply unable to realize. That is why they call Japan " a land of lost"

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I've signed on a computer pad several times before, so it is probable that fax machines will disappear. The fax function, however, seems to remain though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

More like: "Fax machines holding on - only in Japan".

sangetsu03 nailed it. Getting anything administrative done here is slow & convoluted.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Fillable PDF forms with electronic signatures would solve so many of Japan's time-wasting bureaucratic problems...

Although, the problems with typing kanji vs handwriting is also indicative of the limitations inherent in a hieroglyphic script for your language...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This simply reflects the capacity of Japanese to maintain modernity along with tradition. Fax machines are traditional now.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

About a year ago when I bought my office & was getting a tel & fax line installed I mention this to an ols Uni buddy who lives in Cambodia, when I told him about the fax he couldn't stop laughing.........

Japan is way too primitive in many things & it is holding the country back & strangling us with all the stupid trips to city halls etc to get all these daft XXXX shomeishou's, its beyond ridiculous!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Computer bugs do not bother fax machines and the possibility of mistakenly sending out huge amounts of personal information or having it stolen without realizing it is hundreds of times smaller than when you use a fax machine.

Another issue that keeps fax machines popular in Japan is that generating Japanese text on a computer is not easy to do.

Really? Then you must not be using the appropriate software.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We don't have a fax machine at either of our offices. The few times companies want to fax us, we tell them we don't have one, and they find other ways to get us the information.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

“It is nearly impossible to intercept fax transmissions. Documents cannot be manipulated,” he said.

This might be getting pedantic, but if we're comparing apples to apples, an email transmission is far harder to intercept than faxes. Both, are very difficult to do. What, does Champagne think hackers sit around slicing copper phone cables and siphoning off data in the same way a gas thief siphons gasoline?

As long as we're not talking government email collection (which we shouldn't, given that it's quite a different beast, you know, what with being sanctioned by the government that does it), the real security vulnerability with both faxes and email is not the act of transmission, but the storage after the message is transferred. In general, whether that's a risk for interception is not really an issue of technology, it's an issue of the diligence of the people using the technology. For every email-using idiot who sets their password to 1234, there has probably been a fax-using idiot who receives confidential faxes and leaves them sitting out on their desk or throws them in the wastepaper bin without shredding them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Computer bugs do not bother fax machines and the possibility of mistakenly sending out huge amounts of personal information or having it stolen without realizing it is hundreds of times smaller than when you use a fax machine.

Usually, though, the info is on the computers anyway. They just print it out and fax it, or fax it directly from the computer. So I don't really know if that is a security improvement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

GW "..who lives in Cambodia, when I told him about the fax he couldn't stop laughing."

There is nothing worthless to steal in Cambodia. Neither classified military info nor commercial know-how. Hardly one could find there any important personal data. So, they can sit in their offices in Cambodia and laugh, looking on themselves.

"Japan is way too primitive in many things"

Actually, Japan is way advanced in many things. Only having good education and life experience, one could realize it.

katsu78 "an email transmission is far harder to intercept than faxes".

Edward Snowden would hardly agree with this statement.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

hanko registration which must be renewed every three months

I'm afraid you're a bit mistaken. The "shoumeisho" is valid for 3 months, but you only need to show it once. It's only necessary for big transactions, such as purchasing property. For day-to-day business transactions it is not needed but surely as a business owner in Japan you know that.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Talent management agencies only use the fax to announce weddings, pregnancies, divorces, promotions and resignations of their 'stars', along with denial of their affairs, relationships and and any misbehaviour.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As Joe Friday never said, "Just give me the fax, ma'am."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I cannot speak to Japan in general, but I can say that in Japanese academia, fax usage is now exceedingly rare. PDF attachments are the norm. I suspect one reason for continued sales of basic fax machines is that they are dirt cheap. If you are getting a new phone you may as well have one with fax on the off chance that someone might send you one. You can also use simple fax machines as a quick and dirty copier.

I'm not a big fan of hanko, but I do not find it the onerous burden some claim.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My husband still gets requests form clients to send over information via fax. He suggests e-mail, but no, they want a fax. They often send him stuff on fax too, which means he doesn't get it straightaway as his job entails a lot of time outside his office, then they complain he hasn't got back to them quickly enough. He explains that if they e-mail it, he would get the info straight away but no, they want to do business by fax blah. blah, blah...... all the usual set in their ways crap.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I have been using email since 1992 but still keep a fax machine as a backup. When the internet connection goes down, computer goes down, computer gets malware or virus etc., need to send a signature, a landline fax machine still has value.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Hawkeye"When the internet connection goes down, computer goes down, computer gets malware or virus etc...a landline fax machine still has value"

In short, fax machines are reliable in all possible conditions.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I have to open a new corporate account this week. The bank has faxed the documents to me, which I must fill out and stamp with my hanko. But first I have to go to the city office to get an inkan shoumeisho for myself (3 copies), and another for by business (three more copies), which of course I cannot get at the same office. It will take about 90 minutes of my time to get these documents, then I must have them sent back to the bank.

Where this America, I could have done everything without leaving my office. I could have filled out the application forms on line, and emailed scans of whatever documents were necessary. The account would be opened within an hour. Here in Japan, even with all the correctly filled out application, stamps, registration forms, etc. it will be at least a week before they can open the account.

I often wonder how anything gets done in this country, things which take minutes in America or Europe can take days, or even weeks in Japan. But all the paperwork must make it's way to the desks of the various bank bureaucrats who must apply their own stamps to each and every page, and then sent back to the manager, who will apply his own stamp.

This is 2015, not 1915.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is ironic. When faxes first appeared, Japan's government-owned telephone and telegraph corporation (now NTT) tried to ban them because they feared they'd kill the telegraph business. It was rumored that they even had people listening in on phone lines for the tell-tale fax sound. Now the government is helping to keep fax alive by perpetuating the primitive inkan system.

My first fax, which I bought in New Zealand, cost more than my car and was nearly as big. It used a roll of thermal paper, which was also costly. Each fax came through as a continuous scroll, which had to be manually sliced up into pages, and if you left the thermal paper out in the light too long, the writing would fade. I was very glad when that particular technology was rendered obsolete by the Internet.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As a reader pointed out, hankos may not be so much of a hassle - especially if you love using them! Nothing better than stamping something to give the seal of approval. Fax machines however remain the epitome of Bureaucracy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I still love the fax machine and wished we would use it more often. There's something special in receiving a personal message that was handwritten. It conveys personality and feelings. I used to fax with my 60 year old mother who never used a computer. I faxed electronically to her from Japan and she received it to her fax machine in Germany. It worked wonders. I have a fax machine in my All-in-One printer and use it just once in a while but it's nice to have. May the Fax machine live on forever!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Actually I believe these days there are fax machines that can send data as "PDF" or whatever so it can be received via Internet; the other way around has been around for a while (our office used "datacap" which caught/formatted mail messages into fax pages, for print out as needed)...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Instead, the fax is increasingly being wrapped into “multi-function” or “all-in-one” machines that are gaining popularity in the market. These offer consumers printing, scanning, photocopying and faxing functions.

These are really useful, every office should have one of them. In some situations you need to send tons of documents fast, and you have no time for scanning all of them and send them by email. Fax is always a great alternative, so multi-function machines including also fax are the perfect solution.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even 20yrs ago a PC could send and receive faxed as digital files, we only printed out important stuff.

Fax can be handy and don't need to be a separate device/phone.

So personally I don't see anything from with faxes, as for Hanko or Inkan most of our documents were signed with scanned in signatures could also work for them as long as they are in red.

Just my Opinion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Security" HAH! Give me a knife, a plastic eraser, and 30 minutes and I can make you any hanko. Fax it in black and white and even if it's not made well nobody can tell the difference. Faxes and hankos suck and are two of the many creaky joints in the Japanese bureaucratic system that badly need oiling.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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