Japan watches for leap year computer glitch

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Japan watches for leap year computer glitch February 28, 2000 Web posted at: 3:23 PM HKT (0723 GMT)

TOKYO (AP) -- The Japanese government said it will monitor computer operations Monday and Tuesday on concern that the extra day in February 2000, a leap year, may cause Y2K-like glitches.

About 10 staff members in a computer task force set up at the prime minister's residence will be on duty to handle any emergencies, an official at the office said.

The Meteorological Agency reported Monday afternoon that computers at six local observatories had failed to correctly recognize February 29, the extra day on the calendar, because of a computer bug.

The agency said the computer error would be rectified later Monday, said agency spokesman Ippei Eguchi.

In the private sector, Kansai Electric Power Co. said 80 extra workers will be on duty through Tuesday evening.

"We have fixed problems that occurred at the start of the year and basically we don't foresee any new trouble," said company spokesman Takeshi Kato.

Sony Corp. said that two kinds of 8-millimeter video cameras sold between 1986 and 1988, and three types of word processors sold between 1987 and 1989 may fail to recognize February 29.

The company has issued a warning on its Web site and will offer customer assistance over the phone.

Though Japan last year said it had conquered the millennium glitch, in January there were reports across the country of computer problems caused by Y2K, including data transmission errors at some nuclear power plants and financial institutions.

The Y2K bug occurred when computers confused 2000 for 1900.

Computers long have had difficulty in leap years -- treating February 29 as March 1, or March 1 as Feb. 30.

This year, there are greater risks of error because 2000 is an exception to an exception.

An extra day is usually added to the calendar every four years. Only, years that end in "00" do not get the extra day unless they are divisible by 400. So 2000 is a leap year, but 1900 was not.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), February 28, 2000

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