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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 countermeasures.

    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

    (Nikkei Watcher on IT Business)



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