Nuclear power plants in Japan are still largely operated through facsimile technology, it was revealed this week.

A blunder in fax protocol after a strong earthquake struck northern Japan on Tuesday evening triggered global concern.

“Are you f***ing kidding me? Japan manages nuclear power via fax machine?” asked global citizen John Smith.

Employees of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata, where the 6.4-magnitude quake struck, penned the wrong stroke order on a fax message indicating the plant was suffering a nuclear meltdown.

Staff accidentally started writing a kanji from the vertical stroke, rather than the horizontal stroke.

Seventeen minutes after the fax was sent, officials at TEPCO’s headquarters in Tokyo noticed the error and released a statement emphasising that the blunder was not due to the fax machine.

“It was definitely human error, fax machines never fail,” a Japanese government official told reporters.

Image: Flickr/IAEA