The "Y2K problem" is the risk that computer systems may malfunction if their programs fail to recognize dates after the year 2000. This is an enormous and urgent problem as it may shake confidence in the establishment of highly advanced information and telecommunication infrastructures in the 21st century and must be dealt with by a definite deadline.
Today, with less than 500 days to the year 2000, both government and private sectors need to take all possible measures to deal with the problem.
Considering the importance and urgency of this problem, we have to promptly decide a specific action plan and implement it. The action plan should be based on the following considerations.
First of all, it is important to inform all concerned parties, including central and local governments and private sectors, of the appropriate and specific measures for Y2K conversion.
Secondly, it is the responsibility of the central government to take appropriate measures for its own computer systems under clear guidelines. It is necessary to decide on a set of guidelines which includes simulation tests and adoption of crisis control plans, to take necessary measures in accordance with the guidelines, and finally to report publicly on its progress. We also need to urge the local governments to take similar actions.
Thirdly, it is essential for the government to promote comprehensive and through conversion measures in particular for such critical socio-economic sectors as finance, energy, information communication, transportation, and medical care. It is also necessary to provide utmost support for small and medium enterprises whose actions taken for Y2K conversion are considered to be insufficient.
Finally, the Prime Minister's office, with cooperation of related ministries and agencies, will take the initiative to establish an information dissemination system using various media including the Internet. Through this system, the government will provide extensive information on the measures taken by the entire government of Japan. Local governments and private sectors are to be encouraged to make similar efforts.
I would like to decide upon the above-mentioned action plan sometime in mid-September at the next meeting of the Promotion for Advanced Information and Telecommunications Society Headquarters, chaired by myself and composed of all the cabinet ministers. I would also like to call upon expert-advisors in order to take most appropriate measures to tackle the Y2K problem.
As the Y2K problem was on the agenda at the Birmingham Summit, I would like to address the issue in cooperation with the international community.
I would like to ask all the ministers to cooperate in setting up the action plans and to make the utmost effort to implement appropriate measures so that we can face the year 2000 to come without anxiety.