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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Calls Asian Y2K Readiness Patchy




WASHINGTON -- With high-tech systems common across much of the region, Asia is a potential disaster area for millennium-end computer problems, but a country-by-country U.S. government assessment cites most countries as at least moderately prepared.


Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Australia are all described as well prepared for possible problems caused by computers unable to recognize the four-digit date 2000. Computer experts say it could lead to power outages, water shortages and other problems around the globe.


The risk is also described as low in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Less confidence is expressed in China, where major coastal cities are moderately reliant on computerized systems.


"Although China continues redemption efforts and contingency planning, at the present time it appears there may be a risk of potential disruption in the key sectors of banking and finance, telecommunications, medical services, and in electrical power and infrastructure systems outside of the coastal cities," the report on China said.


U.S. diplomatic posts, in advisories prepared for American travelers and released by the State Department on Tuesday, cite possible problems with health services, transportation, power generation, telecommunications, and banking in several parts of the region.


The State Department announced plans Tuesday to continuously update country-by-country advisories posted on its Internet site, www.state.gov, and issue travelers' warnings if necessary.


Even in countries facing low risk, U.S. citizens are being advised to be cautious in making travel and other plans.


While key sectors are at low risk in Australia, the report cites possible problems in the small business sector "where it appears that preparations have not been as thorough."


The report notes that India is one of the leading providers of Y2K remedies for other countries but "some Indian sectors have been slow to recognize the extent of potential Y2K problems within the country, and the Y2K National Task Force has no legal power to enforce compliance."


Nonetheless, India appears to be generally prepared to deal with the Y2K problem, particularly in telecommunications, banking and finance, the report said. "The largest question is the readiness of the electric power sector and the ocean ports, parts of which have been slow to address the Y2K issue," it said.


Pakistan, which is not heavily reliant on computerized systems, appears to be "somewhat prepared," the report on that country said.


Indonesia, preoccupied with turmoil in East Timor, got a late start at addressing potential problems and "does not appear to be fully prepared," the advisory on that country said.


It says a prolonged loss of electrical power "could seriously disrupt operations of some medical facilities and could have an adverse affect on the quality of available medical care."


The report on Japan says the government has been active in pushing all sectors to prepare for possible problems.


South Korea is described as heavily reliant on computerized systems, but the country is preparing a nationwide emergency response system. No information is provided on North Korea, where the United States has no diplomatic representation.


The report on the Philippines says the business sector started late in addressing the problem, "but they have made considerable progress in addressing Y2K concerns in critical sectors."


On Singapore, the department notes a highly effective national campaign to prepare for Y2K problems.


In Taiwan, it cites plans to shut down for 36 hours all the country's automatic teller machines.