With the clock ticking to the start of the Reiwa Era on May 1, private sector companies are concerned that the changeover poses an even greater threat to their information systems than did the Y2K bug.

For government systems, engineers will likely be able to complete necessary repair work in the one-month period prior to the changeover to the new era name, sources said.

However, it is not known what problems in the private sector might arise due to the rush to change the name from Heisei to Reiwa, which could disrupt people’s daily lives on May 1 and after.

“It will be too short a period of time to do the necessary tasks,” an official of Microsoft Japan Co., which produces the Windows operating system, said during an orientation session in mid-February for company officials who were in charge of incorporating the new era name into their systems.

“The quantity of your upcoming tasks will be far greater than posed by the Y2K bug to even compare the two,” he said of the computer bugs that were feared to inflict systems at the end of the 20th century.

A Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry survey showed that 48 percent of private companies that have compiled plans to repair their information technology systems have not planned a test of their operations after the work.

The government once considered around June 2017, when the special law was enacted to allow Emperor Akihito's abdication, announcing the new era name in the summer of 2018. That would have allowed private companies enough time to prepare their systems for the era changeover.

However, some conservative elements in the support base of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration were concerned that the announcement of a new era name during the Heisei Era could create the possibility of a “dual authority” between Akihito and his son Crown Prince Naruhito.

Therefore, the government was forced to heed those voices. It proceeded without an official timetable for the announcement of the new era name, saying only, “We are assuming it will be one month before (the enthronement).”

For the 576 governmental systems that need upgrades for the changeover, the work is likely to be completed by May 7, the first workday after the Reiwa Era takes effect, even with the limited preparation time.