Most dangerous millennium glitch might be human |

Most dangerous millennium glitch might be human

Apparently, Yoshihito Yoshikawa couldn’t take it anymore. Y2K drove him mad.

Stress from dealing with the Y2K computer problem drove Yoshikawa to commit suicide last year, his wife reportedly said in a petition for compensation filed Friday.

Yoshikawa, 40, routinely put in 15-hour days at the Osaka steel sales company, where he was in charge of computer software, Kyodo news agency quoted his wife as saying in the petition.

An official at the government’s Labor Standards Direction Bureau, confirmed that the bureau received the petition, but refused to disclose its contents. According to Kyodo, the petition said the man, whose name was withheld, was ordered to ensure that more than 600 pieces of software would be free of the millennium bug.

The work did not go well, and he would come home late complaining to his wife, “I want to die,” Kyodo said. He jumped to his death from their apartment building in February 1998.

“Because he was forced to do excessive work … causing psychological problems, he committed suicide,” the wife said in the petition, according to Kyodo.

If the Labor Standards Direction Board approves her petition, she will be eligible to receive compensation worth two-thirds of her husband’s salary.

It’s a growing problem as the year 2000 draws closer – Y2K anxiety. Perhaps a bigger potential disaster than computer malfunctions themselves are human malfunctions; people who begin to panic as the magic date approaches.

This could be a big issue in other countries, where officials do not have as good a handle on the problem as do those in the United States.

Mexico’s Y2K coordinator, Carlos Jarque, said the popular perception of the problem was as important as the problem itself.

“Will the banks work? Yes, provided not everyone goes and withdraws their deposits,” Jarque said. “Will the telephone systems work? Yes, provided not everyone picks up the phone and sees if they have a dial tone.”

People should take sensible steps to prepare, counsels Alistair Stewart, a senior year 2000 advisor with the info-tech research firm Giga Information Group.

“Buy batteries or a generator if that’s what makes you feel comfortable,” he said. “You don’t need to build a solar generator. Expect inconveniences, but not disasters. In short, if riding an elevator on New Year’s Eve makes you feel nervous, take the stairs.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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