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  • Medical Groups, Smaller Businesses Slow in Y2K Compliance
  • December 30, 1998 (TOKYO) -- Financial institutions are highly aware of the Year 2000 (Y2K) computer software problem and are addressing it seriously, while medical-related entities and small and midsize businesses are less cognizant of the problem, according to a government survey.
    The status of Y2K compliance in Japan was revealed in a survey conducted by government ministries and agencies at the end of September through November 1998. The survey was targeted mainly at private businesses.

    Among the results of the survey is that major financial institutions, which cannot afford to have any interruptions in their computer systems, are highly cognizant of the Y2K software problem. Also, the awareness of small and midsize financial institutions is growing rapidly.

    In the case of credit associations, 98 percent of about 400 credit associations have introduced Y2K compliance measures in their management plans (as of September 1998). As of the end of June 1998, when the previous survey was conducted, that rate was just 62 percent.

    Of about 300 credit unions, the Y2K compliance rate was 38 percent in the previous survey, and the rate improved to about 80 percent in the latest survey.

    Although Y2K awareness is rising, there is considerable room for improvement. Only about 10 percent of banks, insurance companies and securities companies surveyed have implemented appropriate steps on Y2K issues and have sufficient risk management plans.

    Of the 36 major companies in the energy area, including electric power, gas and oil companies, 74 percent are planning to be Y2K compliant by September 1999 as concerns important control systems, and fully compliant, including simulation tests, by December 1999.

    Most electric power supply companies expect to be Y2K compliant by the fourth quarter of 1999. This is because during the autumn and winter seasons, when power consumption is limited, tests can be carried out easily. Their major tests are expected to be conducted at the last minute before the advent of January 2000.

    The survey indicates that there should be concerns about medical institutions' awareness of the Y2K issue as well as the progress of small and medium-sized businesses in addressing the problem.

    Insufficient Y2K awareness among hospitals and clinics at the level of prefectures is quite noticeable. For example, 37.4 percent of hospitals have not established positions for working on the Y2K issue, which is one of the most basic requirements, and have no specific plans to do so soon. This is the result of responses received from 601 hospitals among randomly selected medical institutions in each prefecture, in a survey conducted in October.

    The survey made it apparent that some medical equipment will stop functioning on Jan. 1, 2000 if no countermeasures or software upgrades are implemented. If the Y2K awareness of medical institutions remains as low as it is now, there is a risk of some important measures not being covered.

    Measures implemented by small and midsize businesses to cope with the Y2K issue are gradually progressing. Yet the situation remains worrisome.

    As concerns business administration systems, up to 33.2 percent of businesses have not yet even started the required tasks and they are either under investigation or have not even considered the issue, as of September 1998. The statistics are based on about 2,000 responses received.

    As for businesses with fewer than five employees, the ratio of inaction is about 46.4 percent. Also, the delay in business administration systems and in Y2K compliance among factory control systems is apparent. About 48.6 percent of small and midsize businesses still need to start Y2K analysis of their control systems.

    In addition, Y2K compliance of control systems of railroad companies and telecommunications businesses is still a major concern. For example, 15 percent of railroad companies are just in the investigation phase and have not even started to work on the actual Y2K issue (as of mid-October to mid-November 1998).

    As for telecom carriers and broadcast companies, 20 percent to 30 percent of them are still in the investigation phase, focusing on their telecom systems and control systems.

    Related stories:
    � Japanese Government Sets Action Plan for Y2K
    � Japanese Gov't Spends Less on Y2K Problem Than U.S., Britain
    � Japan's Finance Industry Draws Measures for Year 2000 Problem

    (Nikkei Computer)

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    Updated: Tue Dec 29 15:55:20 1998 PDT