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| Gov't Agency to Support Small Firms on Y2K Problem
January 6, 1999 (TOKYO) -- The extraordinary Diet session that closed
on Dec. 14, 1998 passed a budget bill to support small and midsize businesses
proposed by the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency of the Ministry of
International Trade and Industry (MITI).
|The legislation goes into effect this month.
The support measures comprise two general components.
One is the setting up of a toll-free call service for consulting on the
Year 2000 problem at local information centers for SMEs in each prefecture,
or at the Japan
Small Business Corp. About 140 advisers, SME consultants and engineers
specializing in advanced information processing will deal with the inquiries.
Another support measure is a service to dispatch system engineers to
office computer users for problem-finding and cost quotations for necessary
Both services will be offered for free.
The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency has secured a budget of 3.7 billion
yen (US$32.5 million) for the plans.
It will advertise the plans on TV and in newspapers and other mass media,
in part because it has observed scant awareness of the Y2K issue among
SMEs. Advertisements worth about 400 million yen (US$3.5 million) will
help elevate the level of awareness.
The agency will participate in such an initiative, which has been the
responsibility of the Japan Small Business Corp. That's because the
current level of awareness-building activity is considered insufficient.
However, the number of users able to reach the dispatching service is
only about 35,000, due to budget limitations. This accounts for less
than 10 percent of 400,000 office computer users who the agency considers
to be in need of Y2K measures.
Related story: Medical
Groups, Smaller Businesses Slow in Y2K Compliance
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