Roughly two out of three households responding to a recent survey said they were unconcerned about possible computer problems related to the start of 2000 and nearly 50 percent said they would not stock up on food and water as suggested by the government. With less than a month to go before the fated year rolls in, the results of a recent Kyodo News survey indicate many households are not prepared for a possible crisis situation, despite calls by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to “prepare for the unexpected.” The poll was conducted Nov. 17 to 22 on households of 200 men and women randomly selected from telephone books of major cities and prefectural capitals. Of the 200, 188 households replied that they knew what the Year 2000 problem was, indicating public awareness of the Y2K issue is high. However, the remaining 12 said they “had not heard of it” or “felt it did not concern them.” A total of 147 households said they did not harbor any Y2K fears, compared to 53 households that did. While some voiced concrete concerns such as fears over bank deposits, many just said they held a vague sense of anxiety. As to the government’s call for households to stock up on two or three days’ worth of food, water and medicine, 54 households said they did not know of the request. Another 102 households said they did not intend to stock up on such necessities. Of these households, many said they will have traditional New Year’s Day dishes, which usually last a few days, on hand. Others responded by saying they would manage even if something happened, and yet others brushed off the whole issue as “much ado about nothing.” Twenty-seven households said they were already prepared, of which 11 responded that they were always prepared for emergencies such as earthquakes. One 52-year-old man from Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, said his family always had a stockpile of 400 liters of water and rice and vegetables to last a month. Sixty-nine households said they plan to store some food, water and other basic necessities by year’s end, with some, like a 46-year-old man in Nara, saying they would keep some extra cash on hand as well. Most households surveyed — 177 — said they would spend the New Year’s holidays at home as usual. Seventeen said they decided to postpone trips, while some said they would go somewhere to “get away from the big city.” Firms in core social sectors such as finance, energy, information and traffic say they are fully prepared for possible confusion as some computer systems may fail or output erroneous data if they mistake the last two digits of 2000 as 1900. However, many experts point out that there is no telling what might go wrong, given the extent to which computers are linked to daily life.
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