In Japan, a country historically renowned for its technological prowess, many aging citizens are clinging to a familiar piece of the past—the fax machine. ”Last year alone, Japanese households bought 1.7 million of the old-style fax macines,” reports Martin Fackler for the New York Times. One of the most popular models includes a set of batteries to keep the fax working through a power failure.
Japan’s reluctance to give up its fax machines offers a revealing glimpse into an aging nation that can often seem quietly determined to stick to its tried-and-true ways, even if the rest of the world seems to be passing it rapidly by. The fax addiction helps explain why Japan, which once revolutionized consumer electronics with its hand-held calculators, Walkmans and, yes, fax machines, has become a latecomer in the digital age, and has allowed itself to fall behind nimbler competitors like South Korea and China.