Information and communication technology appears to have had a profound impact on language use in Japan. An important issue arising from this is said to be the increase in the use of Chinese characters (kanji) outside the official standard. This development has made a re-appraisal of the existing script policy necessary in order to accommodate the changes in kanji usage. To determine the nature and extent of the changes, it is necessary to compare the use of kanji in the information and communication technology era with that in the past. However, not many longitudinal surveys of texts have been done making it difficult to determine the extent to which kanji use has increased and deviated from the existing standard after the development of information and communication technology. This paper is based on a longitudinal study carried out to determine the changes in the proportions of kanji use during the information and communication technology era and before, with a special focus on the use of kanji outside the Joyo List (the current guide for kanji use in all public, non-specialist writing). The study examined the changes in kanji proportions by using topic-controlled news texts published in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun from the 1940s to the 2000s. The study found that the proportion of non-Joyo kanji was minimal right across the period that was investigated and that it remained stable after the development of information and communication technology. The study also found that the proportions of general kanji used in the information and communication technology era was higher than that in the past. However, there were also some unexpected results. Kanji use at the end of the era was lower than what it was at the beginning. Also, apart from an increased use in the 1980s, kanji use remained fairly stable from the 1960s to the 2000s. Although the findings in the study are limited to news texts written about a particular topic, they were generally supported by past research based on other topics and other types of media.