As the Tokyo Organising Committee tells it, Japan is a futuristic place, home to hydrogen-powered, self-driving cars and advanced mobility devices. But NHK is promoting a beloved old-fashioned alternative for connecting Olympic fans to Team Japan: the resilient fax machine.

Terrestrial TV viewers have been asked to send messages of support to Team Japan through an online form, via Twitter or via fax (03-3481-0099, if you’re interested).

Japan has struggled to phase out the fax machine. When Taro Kono became minister for administrative reform in September 2020, he declared war on both the hanko (personal seal) and the fax machine, both seen as symbols of Japan’s bureaucratic inefficiency and as an impediment to teleworking.

According to the Hokkaido Shimbun, however, the government was forced to abandon its plan to phase out faxes in ministries last month after local governments vigorously defended the use of the fax machines over alternatives such as email.

People are often surprised at Japan’s reliance on the fax machine, but it does have some advantages in this case. Fans have been sending in hand-drawn pictures and hand-written messages to NHK via fax, which wouldn’t be possible through its online form.

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