Global Lingo Blog

Why the Japanese still love the fax machine

With the many technological advances in recent times, and a lot of these coming from Japan, one would think that the Japanese would be happy to adopt a modern style of writing by typing. One couldn’t be more wrong.

The Japanese love their language so much that they use it in writing everywhere, especially in business: resumes are handwritten, as calligraphy is thought to reflect personality; business plans and project proposals are also handwritten, as they acquire a certain degree of importance this way. The Japanese are probably the only developed nation that still has handwritten official documents.

With so many hard copies around, the email might seem a bit useless. However, this doesn’t have a negative effect on Japanese businesses. Business communication with handwritten documents is supported by fax machines. Instead of sending cold and easily overlooked emails, Japanese businesses fax handwritten documents.

Who would have thought that one of the most tech-savvy countries would refuse to give up what other not-so-tech-savvy countries gave up years ago?

There are two really sensible reasons why the fax is a crucial business tool in Japan:

1. Calligraphy is highly appreciated throughout Japan

Japan had no writing system in their ancient times. In the 4th Century, Chinese characters were introduced to Japan, and over time the combination of the Chinese characters with the Japanese language created a very complicated system that is used today for written Japanese.

This writing system is so complicated that even adults take private calligraphy classes in order to improve their writing. Anyone who masters the written language is revered.

2. Japanese businesses know their customers

The Japanese population is old and the elderly don’t usually keep up with all technological advances. They tend to have a more traditional approach to life, and this includes their preference for the fax machine.

All in all, the fax seems to be the perfect means of communication in H2H (human to human) business. No matter how a business focuses on other businesses (B2B) or on consumers (B2C), we are all humans.

The Japanese know this, and they want to keep their business relationships as human as possible; the fax is the perfect means to do so, as it is the master of written Japanese and modern technology.

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