Japan weather bureau has early Leap Day glitch

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Japan weather bureau has early Leap Day glitch

TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Japan, whose high-tech reputation has been marred by a series of embarrassing glitches, on Monday suffered a minor computer problem due to the Feb 29 Leap Day rollover, the last gasp of the Y2K issue.

Japan's Meteorological Agency told Reuters that a number of its computers failed to properly print the date on a set of weather forecasts issued early Monday morning.

An agency spokesman said that local maritime advisories good for 24 hours were sent out with an expiry date of "1" instead of "29" from six regional agency offices.

He said the problem, which was discovered within 30 minutes, appeared to stem from a mistake in a program installed by the maker of the computer that was corrected by midday by re-writing the program. There were no systemic problems and no mistakes in the advisories themselves, he added.

Japan saw in the new millennium with no major glitches from the Y2K problem, but its report card was marred by several minor problems, including five data monitoring incidents at nuclear power plants, at least one of which was later acknowledged as a Y2K problem stemming from a computer's inability to read the year 2000.

All were cleared up within hours and did not affect safety or power generation.

Perhaps with this in mind, the Japanese government set up a task force of 10 officials at Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's office on Monday to monitor the situation through the night.

Four affiliates of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NTT) will have about 1,000 employees on standby to deal with any problems between Monday night and Tuesday morning, Kyodo news agency reported. Some 5,000 were on stand-by on December 31 and January 1.

Japan has suffered other embarrassing technological failures recently.

Earlier this month, a rocket failed to put a research satellite into orbit. It was the second successive such disappointment in under four months.


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 28, 2000

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