Y2K bug eats Japanese PM's backbone

'Run away, run away,' cries Y2K ad

In the global game of millennial chicken being played out by the world's governments, it looks as though Japan has been the first to lose its bottle. Just prior to Hallowe'en, and with the dreaded date now just two months away, Japanese prime minister Keizo Obuchi has cracked. Ads taken out in the country's national newspapers have told the nation to stockpile food, keep copies of receipts and bank statements, not use the phone or Internet and watch out for opportunists. Or put simply: "Run for the hills." Preceding the 11-point 'better safe than sorry' plan was the usual gambit of pained smiles and reassuring graphics, but it soon became clear that even politicians can't keep it up in the face of the three zeros. "It is important for each of you to make reparations in case of unexpected emergencies, including minor or short-term inconveniences," the statement said -- governmental shorthand for 'we don't know what the hell is going to happen'. But while Japan has publicly warned of such commonsense fears, it remains to be seen whether the West's stiff upper lip will start quivering. Earlier this month, Action 2000's optimism over the state of year 2000 compliance was knocked by experts who said they just didn't believe them. It will be an interesting two months. The Register's Y2K advice: combine support of your community with self-preservation by talking to OAPs about surviving during the war. When the bug hits, these will be the people with the inside knowledge. You know it makes sense. ®

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