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The government unveiled its latest report Friday on efforts to tackle the Year 2000 computer problem, saying the government and private sector are well on their way toward completing necessary tests and measures to avoid disaster.

Power companies had tested 85 percent of their important control systems by the end of last month, and that figure is expected to reach 95 percent by June and 98 percent by September, the report says.

In the telecommunications industry, tests on 69 percent of important systems have been finished, and 99 percent will be completed by the end of June.

“There have been media reports that Japan is badly behind in (preparedness) for Y2K problems. But from current progress, I can guarantee that Japan is among the world’s leaders,” said IBM Japan Chairman Takeo Shiina, who heads a panel that advises the government.

Ikuo Misumi, an official in the Industrial Electronics Division of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, said the government sees no major problems with the pace of progress being made in the five critical private-sector industries the report mentions: finance, utilities, information and communications, transportation and medicine.

However, some experts say the report is not totally credible, and that complete testing regarding the Y2K problem is very difficult. Also, many government surveys are based on the voluntary submission of data.

The report was released after the fourth meeting of a government advisory committee on the Y2K problem.

As for small and medium-size companies, 76.6 percent said that they have finished or now are doing conversion work to fix Y2K problems, up from 66.8 percent in the previous survey in September.

But 31 percent of businesses with fewer than six workers said they have yet to start looking into the problem.

Apparently concerned about criticism from overseas, the report mentions that a recent survey by the U.S.-based Gartner Group raised Japan’s Y2K ranking from the third to the second tier on a four-tier scale. The third tier consists of countries in which the failure of at least one mission-critical system can be expected in 50 percent of all companies and government agencies, while the second includes nations with an expected 33 percent failure rate.

Gartner’s previous report was based on surveys conducted from July through September, just before the Japanese government and industries launched organized programs to correct Y2K problems, government officials pointed out.

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