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Tokyo Phone Numbers to Have Eight Digits

December 31, 1990

TOKYO (AP) _ The new year brings double trouble for the absent-minded in Tokyo. Along with remembering a new date, they’ll have to remember new telephone numbers.

Telephone numbers in the metropolitan area will expand to eight digits to cope with an overwhelming demand for more telephone lines, the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. said today.

After 2 a.m. Tuesday, callers will have to dial a ″3″ before the current seven-digit local Tokyo numbers. Beepers and phones in some areas of Tokyo already have eight digits, but most Japanese numbers currently have seven.

The change will affect about 6.14 million telephone numbers. The seven- digit system has the capacity for 10 million numbers, but ″with eight- digit numbers, we won’t have to worry about the lack of phone lines for a long time,″ said NTT spokesman Haruo Maeda.

NTT has spent some $37 million on the switchover, including yearlong mechanical changes and public announcements since September.

Some confusion is expected at first.

″Since people have been used to the 7-digit numbers for so long, it might be difficult to switch to the new system right away,″ said Masatoshi Inadome of NTT’s customer service. ″Many will have to learn after at least one failure,″ he said.

″We are afraid many people may forget to fix numbers programmed into their fax machines, personal computers and telephone sets,″ he said. ″The problem is that callers can hear our recorded reminder when they forget to add the extra digit, but fax users won’t,″ Inadome said.

In addition to the pre-recorded tape service to remind those who forget to add the extra ″3,″ dozens of NTT staffers will stay overnight in their branches nationwide to help callers.

Kokusai Denshin Denwa Co., the nation’s leading long distance carrier, will also provide tapes in Japanese and English to remind callers of the change, Inadome said.

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