OSAKA — While celebrations to usher in the new millennium are being scheduled at a number of venues here, one of Osaka’s most visible officials may not be among those taking part. It is speculated that Osaka Gov. “Knock” Yokoyama, who is currently embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, will have his hands tied overseeing official Year 2000 strategies. As head of Osaka’s Y2K strategies division, Yokoyama will be holed up at the Osaka Prefectural Government office throughout New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day — in stark contrast to Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, who plans to make a quick trip from the metropolitan government building before midnight to join in the metropolis’ countdown celebrations. In previous years Yokoyama, a comedian, managed to get away from his public duties, making appearances on TV shows and other events during the yearend holidays. However, in light of the recent sexual harassment suit against him, which he has not contested, his popularity has waned and his activities as an entertainer have been trimmed back. Yokoyama is expected to hold a news conference at around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 and announce any Y2K problems in the prefecture that may have arisen. While event organizers had hoped the governor would take part in the celebrations at Osaka Castle, right near the prefectural government building, his aides said his attendance is unlikely. Meanwhile, Osaka Prefectural Police have set up a special strategic division to deal with Y2K problems. Some 12,000 officers, around 50 percent of the prefectural force, will be placed on duty or on standby from New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day, with roughly 300 patrol cars expected to make the rounds.
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