Intel Official Warns of Failure of Japan's Power Grid, Public Utilities : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This appeared in the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (May 27).

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The world's key supplier of microprocessor chips to the PC industry warns that apparently lagging efforts by Japan's public utilities to correct Year 2000 computer bugs could grow into serious disruptions of global personal computer shipments and, in turn, damage the U.S. economy next year.

That is because a shutdown of the Japanese power grid next January could jeopardize supply lines to the personal computer industry around the world, Donald K. Rose, general manager of Y2K projects for Intel Corp., said in an interview here.

The trouble, Rose said, is that it is impossible to gauge just how real that risk may be.

"The perception is that we are at high risk in Japan, because there's been no open disclosure of information," he said.

Rose said it has been "difficult, like trying to get through a brick wall," to get any information about Y2K compliance from Japanese electric companies, water and sewer providers, telecommunications firms, and other suppliers of critical infrastructure.

If those industries found themselves trying to solve Y2K problems after the fact, he said, "there would be serious disruptions to building chips around the world, and we would not be the only ones affected. You could have the whole industry flat on its back."

He said it has been his experience that countries and companies that do not want to talk about their Y2K issues tend not to be prepared. . . .

Japan, with Asia's single largest economy, encompasses nearly one-fourth of Intel's "mission critical" suppliers, about 8 percent of the world's computer market, and a large number of important computer manufacturers, including NEC, Fujitsu, Toshiba and Hitachi. . . .

Extrapolating from the private-sector data, Intel officials believe Japan's public agencies aren't properly prepared for Y2K. They can't say for sure, however, because neither Japanese industry nor government has cooperated. . . .

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power said the company was carrying out "perfect research" on how to overcome its Y2K problems and expected that all critical systems would function properly next New Year's. He said the company would be unwilling to supply detailed information on its Y2K efforts to a private company, for fear of disclosing company secrets.

An official of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Kazuo Yuhara, said the government would be "pretty much prepared" for Y2K and expressed surprise at Intel's criticism. . . .

The Gartner Group, a high-tech research firm, recently upgraded its evaluation of corporate Japan's preparedness for Y2K, but expressed concern about whether the "national, regional and municipal government technical systems" were being worked on with the same intensity. . . .


-- zoobie (, May 28, 1999

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