No. 352, January 1999

1999 Archive Index aaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home

Japanese Companies in the United States

American Companies In Japan

Subscriber Area aaaa Home

Japanese Companies in the U.S.


Additional supplies of liquid polyimide materials for semiconductor applications are coming on the market with the start-up of a second HD MICROSYSTEMS L.L.C. plant in Parlin, New Jersey. The new facility turns out high-molecular-weight polyimide coatings and photodefinable polyimides -- materials that are used for stress buffer and wafer overcoat as well as for dielectric and passivation layers in chips and thin-film packages. Year-old- plus HD MicroSystems, equally owned by HITACHI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. and E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC., spent approximately $12 million to build a facility with a Class 10,000 cleanroom manufacturing area, a Class 100 cleanroom for filtration and bottling and a Class 10 cleanroom for quality control and functional testing. The new plant in Parlin, which roughly doubles capacity at that location, manufactures the same products as the joint venture's Yamazaki Works in Hitachi City, Ibaraki prefecture.

For between an estimated $17.1 million and $25.6 million, ZEON CHEMICALS INC. will acquire the exclusive right to purchase all the nitrile-butadiene rubber produced by DSM COPOLYMER INC. at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana plant. The wholly owned NIPPON ZEON CO., LTD. subsidiary will be responsible for worldwide marketing of DSM Copolymer's 15,000-ton-per-year output of Nysyn NBR and Nysynblak NBR. This volume will solidify Nippon Zeon's position as the world's top NBR supplier, giving it a projected 33 percent of the market versus the 29 percent it has now with its own Nipol brand. This type of synthetic rubber is used to manufacture such products as engine hoses and oil seals. Louisville, Kentucky-headquartered Zeon Chemicals is the leading producer of specialty elastomers in the United States. It operates out of plants in Louisville and Hattiesburg, Mississippi that Nippon Zeon bought in 1989 from BF GOODRICH CO. as well as a facility that opened the following year in Bayport, Texas. The deal with DSM Copolymer is expected to close in late March.

A second Japanese firm is working with INSPIRE PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. to develop its INS365 therapeutic. SANTEN PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., one of the world's top makers of ophthalmic drugs, and the Durham, North Carolina company are developing INS365 for the treatment of dry eye disease, a common cause of eye irritation and impaired vision. Under the terms of their partnership, Santen will forward to Inspire up to $6.25 million for equity investments and milestone payments in exchange for exclusive rights to market the INS365 ophthalmic in Japan and nine other Asian countries on a royalty basis. Last fall, KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. teamed up with Inspire to advance INS365 for respiratory tract problems, the drug's main target (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, pp. 2-3). The North Carolina drug discovery and development firm is funded by a venture capital syndicate that includes JAFCO CO., LTD. as one of four major participants.

In their second major collaborative effort, JAPAN TOBACCO INC. and CELL GENESYS, INC. will apply the Foster City, California firm's GVAX cancer vaccine program to prostate cancer and another target to be determined later. GVAX, which currently is undergoing Phase I and Phase II clinical studies in the United States, is designed to destroy a cancer by stimulating a patient's immune system. JT and Cell Genesys will equally split product development costs and future profits, with the diversified Japanese company having marketing rights in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea and its American partner in charge of sales in the United States. The financial terms of their agreement are complex, but Cell Genesys could receive $45 million or so from JT during the first two years of the new relationship and considerably more in time. The pair tied up initially in 1991, an arrangement that led to the development of a human monoclonal antibody technology that now is being commercialized by a Cell Genesys affiliate. JT owns approximately 3 percent of Cell Genesys.

Having decided that cell therapy holds promise as a treatment for cancer, chronic infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases, KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. tied up with two pioneers in the field to get this new business off to a fast start. It is working with DENDREON CORP. to develop and commercialize therapeutic products based on the Mountain View, California biotechnology firm's dendritic cell technology, which stimulates immune responses. Kirin received a license to employ Dendreon's know-how in Asia in exchange for a signing fee, milestone payments and royalties on sales. At the same time, the Japanese firm made an equity investment of unknown size in its partner and agreed to buy additional stock when Dendreon makes an initial public offering. The California firm's first product, a treatment for prostate cancer, is in late-stage clinical trials in the United States. Kirin will begin clinical testing of an unstated cell therapy in Japan this year.

KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. also gained access to a different approach to cell therapy -- stem cell transfusion -- through an alliance with AMCELL CORP. Under this deal, it became the exclusive distributor of the Sunnyvale, California start-up's current and future CliniMACS cell selection systems. The first product in this line, the CD34+, makes it possible to select CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood or cord blood. Early in 1999, Kirin will begin the process to get AmCell's product approved for sale in Japan.

ASAHI CHEMICAL INDUSTRY CO., LTD. exercised an option under an August 1997 agreement with BIOSTAR, INC. to develop a point-of-care diagnostic test for pneumonia. The two have been working on the development of rapid diagnostic tests for sexually transmitted diseases. Under the terms of the revamped arrangement, Asahi Chemical has the exclusive right to make and market in Japan and certain other countries specified point-of-care diagnostics for sexually transmitted and respiratory diseases that use the Boulder, Colorado company's thin-film and ellipsometer technologies. The Japanese partner is financing most of the costs of developing the test kits covered by the deal with BioStar, which recently became a THERMO ELECTRON CORP. company, on top of paying it licensing fees.

Japan's top radiopharmaceutical company, NIHON MEDI-PHYSICS CO., LTD., plans to sign a second development agreement with PALATIN TECHNOLOGIES INC. under which the Princeton, New Jersey biopharmaceutical firm will develop diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceutical products based on its MIDAS peptide technology. The arrangement, expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 1999, calls for unspecified up-front payments by Nihon Medi-Physics along with milestone payments. The Japanese company and Palatin Technologies recently terminated their first development agreement, signed in late 1996, after deciding to change the focus of their collaboration.

Two Japanese companies have filed new drug applications with the Food and Drug Administration. Princeton, New Jersey-based TAKEDA AMERICA RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER, INC. is seeking approval to market ACTOS (pioglitazone hydrochloride) tablets for the treatment of Type II diabetes. ACTOS is a member of a new class of oral antidiabetes agents called thiazolidinediones. They reduce insulin resistance -- the body's inability to use effectively its own insulin -- which is considered a leading cause of Type II diabetes. The other class of Type II antidiabetes drugs stimulates the body's insulin production or limits glucose production. Once the go-ahead is received, expected in 2000, TAKEDA PHARMACEUTICALS AMERICA, INC. of New York City will copromote ACTOS with ELI LILLY AND CO. under a May 1998 agreement.

For its part, SNOW BRAND MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. has applied to the FDA to market a treatment for Sjogren's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease largely affecting women that causes inflammation of the glands that produce tears and the ones that make saliva. Cevimelin, which Snow Brand codeveloped with NIPPON KAYAKU CO., LTD., is a selective agonist that binds with the muscarinic receptors to stimulate tear and salivary production. The Japanese firm hopes to gain sales approval within 1999.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


In an about-face, the NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. resigned TECH DATA CORP., one the largest wholesale distributors of technology products, to distribute Versa notebook computers, PowerMate desktop personal computers, Express5800 servers and MobilePro handheld PCs to resellers across the country. In June 1997, NEC CSD ended all distribution agreements in favor of direct sales to corporate customers -- one of the struggling Sacramento, California firm's many attempts in recent years to get its sales back on an expansion track. It discovered, however, that some business buyers preferred to work with resellers. They now have that option.

HITACHI PC CORP., which never went the direct-sales route, expanded its distribution agreements with INGRAM MICRO INC. and TECH DATA CORP. to include the Hitachi VisionBase server line. Santa Ana, California- headquartered Ingram Micro, the world's top wholesale distributor of technology products, and Tech Data of Clearwater, Florida previously handled Hitachi PC notebooks and desktop machines. They now will carry the two-way Pentium II-based VisionBase 8240 server, the four-way Pentium II Xeon- based 8460 and the 8880, an eight-way enterprise server (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 3). Hitachi PC's full line also is available to value-added resellers through SENECA DATA DISTRIBUTORS INC. of East Syracuse, New York and JONES BUSINESS SYSTEMS INC. of Richardson, Texas.

Like the competition, the Computer Systems Division of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. is giving buyers of enterprise-class and departmental servers the option of rack-mountable systems. The Magnia 7000R can support as many as four 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors with either 512 kilobytes or 1 megabyte of Level 2 cache. It also features a 100-MHz front-side bus and an improved memory architecture that helps to boost performance. The Magnia 5000R departmental server comes with a single 350-MHz, 400-MHz or 450-MHz Pentium II processor. It, too, has a 100-MHz front-side bus and high-speed ECC (error checking and correcting) memory. The enterprise-class 7000R starts at $8,500, while the 5000R begins at $4,500. TAIS also is marketing the companion 6142 rack for $2,000 and up.

CLARION CO., LTD.'s U.S. marketing subsidiary had a January ship date for the multifunctional Clarion Auto PC for vehicles. The $1,300 machine, which uses a version of the Windows CE 2.0 operating system, integrates audio, navigation, wireless communications and computing functions, all of which can be activated by voice command. Given its speech synthesis capability, a driver, for example, can retrieve and listen to e-mail without taking his or her eyes off the road. Clarion hopes to sell 30,000 Auto PCs in 1999.

Companies interested in building a storage area network have another option in HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP.'s Freedom Storage 5800 with its high- speed Fibre Channel interconnects. The storage subsystem comes with as many as four Fibre Channel connections to the host processor. It also can be configured with up to eight Ultra SCSI (small computer system interface) or Ultra2 SCSI connections for eight concurrent input/output paths among clustered Windows NT, NetWare and Unix servers. The Freedom Storage 5800, which ranges in price from $45,000 to $140,000, has a maximum accessible capacity of more than 1 terabyte in a single rack using 18- gigabyte disk drives. .....Meanwhile, Santa Clara, California-headquartered HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. agreed to distribute in the United States the Scimitar/Virtual Tape Server line of neighbor SUTMYN STORAGE CORP. This product employs a SCSI attachment that allows storage subsystems like the Freedom Storage family, which includes the 7700E and the 5700E in addition to the new 5800, to store tape-formatted data on disks. That capability gives companies cost-effective access to their legacy data stored on tape. The Scimitar/VTS provides more than 1.6 terabytes of capacity.

A rewritable digital video disk drive is shipping from PANASONIC INDUSTRIAL CO.'s Milpitas, California-based computer components group. It can read and write data to 5.2-GB double-sided DVD disks or to 2.6-GB single-sided ones. The drive also can read other formats, including DVD-ROM (read-only memory), DVD recordable, DVD video, CD audio, CD-ROM, CD-R and CD rewritable. The drive itself is $800, while the DVD disks cost either $25 (single-sided) or $40 (double-sided).

The AngleView line of displays from MITSUBISHI ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC.'s electronic device group has two new members, both of which provide a 120- degree viewing angle as well as greater luminance than traditional CRT (cathode-ray tube) displays. The 12.1-inch thin-film-transistor liquid crystal display model delivers a Super VGA (video graphics array) resolution of 800 pixels x 600 pixels and an 18-bit color depth to define 262,144 colors. Its 10.4-inch counterpart features VGA (640 x 480) resolution and the same 18-bit color depth of the bigger model. Each of the displays costs $800.

Despite all the interest in color printers and multifunctional machines, a big market still exists for low-priced monochrome printers. The Mount Laurel, New Jersey Okidata division of OKI AMERICA, INC. is trying to capitalize on that demand with a new line of Oki Page digital LED (light-emitting diode) printers. The OkiPage 8w, 10ex and 12i give small and midsize businesses a choice of speed -- 8 pages per minute, 10 ppm and 12 ppm, respectively, all with a 600-dot-per-inch resolution -- depending on how much they are willing to spend. The OkiPage 8w goes for $310, the 10ex lists at $520 and the high-end 12i costs $800.

The Torrance, California subsidiary of SEIKO INSTRUMENTS, INC. has introduced a cordless, handheld thermal printer for notebooks and other portable devices. The Windows CE-compliant DPU-3445 uses infrared technology. Including its 7.2-volt DC lithium-ion battery, the device weighs just 13 ounces. It is priced around $240.

Completing a strategic retreat from a business where it recently had been among the world's biggest players, KAO CORP. sold its North American and European storage media and software replication businesses to ZOMAX OPTICAL MEDIA, INC. for approximately $37.5 million. The big manufacturer of personal-care and household products signaled this outcome last spring when it downsized the operations of its 10-year-old KAO INFOSYSTEMS CO. subsidiary in Plymouth, Massachusetts (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 3). The U.S. facilities acquired by Plymouth, Minnesota-based Zomax include a 22-line CD and DVD manufacturing, packaging and distribution plant in Fremont, California and a call center in San Ramon, California. Other former Kao production locations bought by Zomax are in Ontario, Canada, Dublin, Ireland and Germany. These businesses had estimated revenues of $160 million in 1998.

BROTHER INTERNATIONAL CORP. has opened a $40 million-plus distribution center with 1.1 million square feet of space in Bartlett, Tennessee, where the BROTHER INDUSTRIES, LTD. subsidiary has had manufacturing operations since 1987. Inventories of printers, fax machines, multifunctional units, word processors, typewriters, labeling systems and sewing machines will be stocked there. Brother International, which had sales of $1.2 billion in 1997, already has announced plans to add 1 million square feet of warehouse space in Bartlett.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Trader NICHIMEN CORP. and big contractor KAJIMA CORP. have decided that building warehouses for eventual sale is a money-maker. The first location for this equally owned project is Sacramento, California. There, at a cost estimated at $31 million, they will put up six warehouses on a 1.9 million square foot piece of property, building two at a time. The first pair should be ready by June 1999. Once all six are up, occupied and profitable, the partners expect to sell the complex. A company formed by the U.S. subsidiaries of Nichimen and Kajima will manage the distribution center.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Continuing to shift color picture tube capacity to the United States from Japan, where demand is ebbing, HITACHI, LTD. is adding production of 36-inch CRTs for digital television sets to the product lineup of its Greenville, South Carolina plant. This transfer is projected to cost $15.4 million. HITACHI ELECTRONIC DEVICES (USA), INC. now makes roughly 1 million 27-inch and 32- inch direct-view and projection picture tubes, including some capable of displaying VGA and SVGA resolutions for use in digital TV sets. The factory will start off this spring producing about 10,000 of the 36-inch CRTs a month. Hitachi will use half of this output internally and sell the rest to other TV set manufacturers.

The day is not far off when consumers can expect PCs and various digital audio and/or visual appliances to be interconnected and interoperable through a home network. Such a system, though, will require a home server, which, in turn, means a new hard disk drive architecture capable of handling multiple streams of audio-visual content received from digital TV broadcasting and the Internet and storing this large amount of data in a quickly accessible, protected way. Enter SONY CORP. and WESTERN DIGITAL CORP. They will form a partnership to codevelop a hard disk drive for consumer AV applications. They expect to have a prototype ready for verification of the basic technologies by the end of March 1999, with commercialization of the product completed sometime in 2000. The consumer electronics giant will develop the interface, architecture and protocol for AV applications, while the Irvine, California-based hard disk drive manufacturer will be responsible for the mechanical and electronic components and the drive's firmware.

To expand sales of its printed circuit boards, the Scotts Valley, California subsidiary of SSK LTD. (formerly Suzuki Manufacturing Co., Ltd.) has stationed marketing representatives on the East Coast and the West Coast as well as in the South and the Midwest. The company specializes in printed circuit boards for cellular telephones.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


The September 1998 bankruptcy of JAPAN LEASING CORP. has created expansion opportunities for American companies in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, pp. 15-16) as well as at home. Here, FIDELITY LEASING, INC. has acquired JLA CREDIT CORP., a Torrance, California equipment leasing company that Japan Leasing set up in 1988, for $357 million, including debt. JLA originated leases with an aggregate equipment value of $181 million in 1998 and, at yearend, had a net investment of $312.1 million in leases. Both it and Fidelity Leasing, a wholly owned subsidiary of Philadelphia's RESOURCE AMERICA, INC., are in the business of providing "small-ticket" leasing programs for manufacturers and vendors.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


The U.S. margarine business has a new number-two supplier behind market leader UNILEVER N.V. At an estimated cost of $59.8 million, VENTURA FOODS, LLC bought margarine producer SUNNYLAND REFINING CO. of Birmingham, Alabama. Ventura Foods -- a City of Industry, California- headquartered manufacturer of edible vegetable oils and related products that is owned by MITSUI & CO., LTD. (54 percent), HONEN CORP. and CENEX HARVEST STATES COOPERATIVES -- already was strong in commercial-use margarine but was weak in the retail margarine market. The purchase of Sunnyland, which has annual sales of approximately $85.5 million, remedied this shortfall as well as better positioned Ventura Foods to compete in the southern part of the United States. The Mitsui affiliate is projecting FY 1999 sales of $1.1 billion.

ASAHI BREWERIES, LTD. wants to double its U.S. sales to 2 million cases in 1999. To reach that target, Japan's second-largest beer company will beef up its distribution network, which now includes many MILLER BREWING CO. wholesalers. Asahi and Miller set up a Los Angles marketing company in March 1998 in which the Japanese partner has a 90 percent stake (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 5). Among other strategies, Asahi hopes to get its beer into nationwide supermarket chains.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Given the very competitive nature of the American optical retail market, MITANI CORP. decided that it would be better off in the wholesale end of the eyeglass business. As a result, its wholly owned SPECTRON, INC. subsidiary sold its 28 EyeWorld stores in New England and New York state to market leader LENS-CRAFTERS. Fukui prefecture-based Mitani reportedly made a profit of $28.6 million on the sale of the Natick, Massachusetts company's stores. Early this year, the trader, which bought Spectron in the 1980s, plans to establish a U.S. subsidiary to wholesale Brazilian-made eyeglasses.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


The 39 percent share that Japanese investors own in ALUMAX INC.'s primary aluminum plants in Frederick, Maryland and Ferndale, Washington has been redistributed. MITSUI & CO., LTD. bought out partner TOSTEM CORP.'s 9 percent interest for about $79 million, raising its stake to 32 percent from 23 percent. YKK CORP.'s 7 percent share remains unchanged. The deal gives Mitsui marketing rights to 161,000 tons of the 500,000 or so tons of ingot turned out annually by the two plants; before, its cut was 116,000 tons. The Japanese trio bought an initial 25 percent of the big American aluminum maker's ingot plants in 1988 and then increased their combined holding to 39 percent in early 1995.

Management and other investors in the Portland, Oregon area bought a controlling interest in OREGON METAL SLITTERS, INC. from bankrupt OKURA & CO., LTD. and one of its affiliates. The buyout cost an estimated $17.1 million. The trader had purchased an 81.2 percent interest in the distributor and processor of flat-rolled steel in 1988. Oregon Metal Slitters reportedly received bids from a number of potential buyers.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Volume production of SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD.'s SH Series of smaller, general-purpose injection molding machines has started in Pendergrass, Georgia (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 5), marking the first time that the company has made this product overseas. For now, SUMITOMO (SHI) PLASTICS MACHINERY MANUFACTURING (USA), LLC expects to turn out 10 machines a month in the 55-ton to 165- ton clamping force range. In 2000, however, it plans to expand this output to 20 units a month. Marketing of these machines to North American electronics, automotive and other manufacturers is the responsibility of another SHI subsidiary in Norcross, Georgia.

MOTOMAN, INC., the wholly owned robotics manufacturing and marketing unit of YASKAWA ELECTRIC CORP., has increased its Dayton, Ohio plant by 60 percent. That expansion is pivotal to its goal of boosting revenues to $170.9 million in FY 2000 from an estimated $119.7 million in the year through February 1999. The added space not only gives the company more capacity to turn out its extensive product lineup, including arc welding, assembly, coating, dispensing, laser welding, materials-handling, painting and spot welding robots. It also provides extra room for systems integration work and customer training. Selling more value-added robotic systems instead of stand-alone machines is seen as just as key to achieving the latest sales objective as increased volume.

The expenditure of $9.4 million has given the 12-year-old Reynoldsburg, Ohio subsidiary of big materials-handling equipment manufacturer DAIFUKU CO., LTD. the capability to launch integrated production of monorail and chain- type conveyer systems. Besides making its U.S. operation more competitive, Daifuku wants to better harness the expertise of its AUTOSIMULATIONS, INC. unit, a Bountiful, Utah developer of distribution software acquired in late 1996, to offer customers a comprehensive materials-handling solution. Virtually all of Daifuku's business in the United States reportedly comes from the local operations of Japan's car and truck builders. It would like to expand this base to the Big Three automotive makers.

Automotive and appliance manufacturers have a single source of products to automate their stamping press operations as a result of a marketing agreement between NACHI ROBOTIC SYSTEMS, INC. and ISI NORGREN. Under it, Anchorville, Michigan-headquartered ISI Norgren, which specializes in press- to-press materials-handling systems, will combine Nachi robots with existing or new press lines to create a fully integrated system. Novi, Michigan-based Nachi Robotic is the North American distributor of robots built by NACHI FUJIKOSHI CORP.

Like other Japanese manufacturers whose business is suffering because of the slump at home and in East Asia, KOMATSU ZENOAH CO. is looking to the U.S. market for a sales lift. This spring, it will introduce a line of environmentally friendly lawn and garden equipment. The first product is a lawn mower powered by a low-emissions, four-stroke engine jointly developed with RYOBI OUTDOOR PRODUCTS, INC., a Chandler, Arizona manufacturer of lawn and garden equipment that is owned by RYOBI LTD. Sales of the new lawn mower are projected at 5,000 units a year. Komatsu Zenoah plans to follow up with other low-polluting equipment, including presumably its mainstay grass trimmers/brush cutters.

PITNEY BOWES INC.'s high-speed mailing machines soon will incorporate the Bubble Jet printing technology developed by CANON INC. The two companies have forged an alliance that involves the sharing of technologies. It also calls for Canon to supply Bubble Jet product components on an original equipment manufacturer basis to the dominant U.S. maker of mailing systems.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Beginning in February, a new generation of seismic-isolation devices will be made outside San Diego, California by a multinational partnership. Japan's top manufacturer of earthquake-resistant equipment, OILES CORP., has joined with SKELLERUP INDUSTRIES LTD., New Zealand's largest maker of rubber products, to produce what are known as lead-rubber bearings. These products are made from alternating layers of rubber and thin steel plates bonded together. A lead plug then is fitted into a preformed hole to provide both rigidity under low lateral loads and energy dissipation with high lateral loads, and thick steel plates are added to the top and bottom. Finally, the package is encased in rubber to provide additional environmental protection. Lead-rubber bearings can be made in a wide range of sizes to accommodate different design requirements, such as buildings or bridges. SKELLERUP OILES SEISMIC PROTECTION, L.L.C., in which Oiles has a 49 percent interest, has leased a plant in Poway, California to make the bearings.

Through a private placement, CENTURY MEDICAL INC. invested $1 million in ENCORE MEDICAL CORP., an Austin, Texas manufacturer of orthopedic total joint, trauma and spinal implants. The wholly owned ITOCHU CORP. subsidiary is the exclusive distributor in Japan of Encore's orthopedic trauma products. These include the True-Flex intramedullary rod system, which is used to repair fractures to the long bones of the body. In exchange for the capital infusion, Century Medical's distribution agreement was extended through the end of 2005.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


The first of several NEC CORP. candidate technologies to provide the next generation of dynamic random access memories for PCs, servers and workstations will go into volume production in April at NEC ELECTRONICS, INC.'s big semiconductor complex in Roseville, California. NEC says that its 256-megabit synchronous DRAM chip, which currently is sampling, can hold more than four times the data of today's 64-megabit DRAM. That makes it ideal for the most demanding workstation and server applications. To be fabricated using a 0.20-micron process technology, the part will be priced at $250 in 100,000-unit quantities.

To further its development of highly integrated mass storage chips, NEC CORP. spent $15 million to acquire a 20 percent stake in DATAPATH SYSTEMS INC. This Santa Clara, California start-up designs and develops complex analog/digital chips for signal processing and communications applications. The two companies are not strangers. Since 1994, NEC has provided technical and financial assistance to DataPath in the hope of someday coming up with a true single-chip disk drive.

Three transpacific alliances have released chips for specialized applications. Under a January 1997 agreement, HITACHI, LTD. and EQUATOR TECHNOLOGIES, INC. are sampling in the United States a programmable media processor platform that can be used to build a variety of digital media and imaging products, including set-top boxes, high-definition and standard- definition TVs, printers/copiers and video editors. The architecture underlying the MAP1000 is designed to replace hard-wired multimedia engines as well as microprocessors by integrating high-performance imaging into an advanced very-long-instruction-word central processing unit. The MAP1000 media engine comes with a complete suite of development tools and reference applications. Production quantities will be available sometime in 1999. Hitachi, along with CANON INC. and several Japanese venture capital funds, is an investor in Campbell, California-based Equator, which was formed in 1996.

KENWOOD CORP. and LSI LOGIC CORP. have come up with a chip that integrates all the functions, including decoding and tuner control, to receive satellite-broadcast digital TV programming. Samples of the L64744 system on a chip will be available during the first quarter at $170 or so, with commercial shipments to follow in the spring. LSI Logic, the manufacturer, will sell the system chip directly to makers of set-top boxes or TVs with built-in receivers, while Kenwood will incorporate the L64744 into receivers or chip boards for supply to other companies on an OEM basis. Already available in the United States, digital satellite TV broadcasting will start in Japan in late 2000.

A digital camera chipset developed by FUJIFILM MICRODEVICES CO., LTD. in partnership with KOPIN CORP. should broaden the market for the Taunton, Massachusetts company's color CyberDisplay among digital still camera manufacturers. The flat panel display is a 0.24-inch (diagonal) transmissive active-matrix LCD imaging device that enables digital cameras as well as other portable communications devices and personal information products to display information from a variety of data or video sources. The chipset, which is available now from Fuji Microdevices, combines a CCD (charge- coupled device) imager, analog and digital signal processors, a display controller and CyberDisplay.

The primary U.S. subsidiary of MITSUI & CO., LTD. was one of four venture capitalists and strategic investors to participate in a $14 million round of financing for ECLIPSE INTERNATIONAL, INC. The Mountain View, California firm makes chipsets and single-board computers preloaded with the operating system for the embedded Windoes CE systems market. Mitsui and various affiliates have invested in more than 50 portfolio companies in the United States.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Attempting to better position itself in the electronic messaging field, SOFTBANK HOLDINGS INC. merged three companies in this business to form MESSAGEMEDIA INC. The holding company for SOFTBANK CORP.'s extensive U.S. activities and various affiliates owns about 56 percent of the outstanding stock of San Diego, California-headquartered MessageMedia. It started off as FIRST VIRTUAL HOLDINGS INC., the developer of a system for relationship-based transactive messaging. Right before the merger, this firm took over EMAIL PUBLISHING INC., which helps customers handle large-scale e-mail content delivery and subscriber management, and DISTRIBUTED BITS, L.L.C., which came up with a system that makes it easier for companies to manage large volumes of incoming e-mail inquiries initiated by customers. On its launch, MessageMedia was doing business with more than 60 companies in the financial services, publishing, direct marketing and e-commerce industries.

By its own count, SOFTBANK CORP. and its affiliates have invested in more than 70 Internet companies in the United States and Japan. That total now is one higher. Venture capital funds managed by Softbank invested $30 million in INSWEB CORP. The Redwood City, California company provides insurance on-line, offering free, multiple rate quotes on automobile, term life, homeowners, renters, individual health and short-term medical insurance from 26 participating carriers. As part of this alliance, Softbank and InsWeb will form a company in Japan sometime in 1999 to provide insurance products to individuals over the Internet. The Japanese partner will own 60 percent of the venture. It will start off offering information on nonlife policies, but other types of insurance coverage will be added as the insurance market is liberalized.

Through its primary American subsidiary, SONY CORP. invested an undisclosed amount of money in NTRU CRYPTOSYSTEMS, INC. and received a nonexclusive license to use the Providence, Rhode Island start-up's encryption and authentication technology. NTRU's encryption software is based on a powerful mathematical model that simplifies and speeds the creation of the encryption "keys" required for secure digital transactions. Perhaps the software's greatest strength is that it needs far less memory than current encryption systems. That allows it to generate new, disposable keys in real time for every secure transaction. This means, in turn, that the technology can be applied to Internet telephony and video and audio streaming techniques.

The drive for convergence between digital consumer electronics products and computer networking technologies received another boost when MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on "network- aware" digital consumer electronics equipment using Sun's Java programming technology. Under the MOU, Sun will license its PersonalJava to MEI. The two also will attempt to develop a common Java API (application programming interface) and adapt it for digital TV products. The third area covered by the MOU involves collaboration on a smaller-footprint Java platform and associated API for use with a wide range of products for the home. Like several other big Japanese electronics companies, MEI also is exploring the use of MICROSOFT CORP.'s Windows CE operating system for the next generation of consumer devices (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 7).

By midyear, KISSEI COMTEC CO., LTD., a medical software developer affiliated with KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., hopes to have a marketing subsidiary in operation in Hackensack, New Jersey. The Nagano prefecture firm has developed more than 20 medical analysis software titles. The new U.S. unit also expects to conduct R&D and to export American-developed medical software. Kissei Comtec has had a liaison office in New Jersey since 1997.

Another Japanese trust bank has selected SUNGARD DATA SYSTEMS INC.'s Global Plus system to support its North American custody business. MITSUI TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. will install the Year 2000-ready, multicurrency, accrual-based asset management and accounting system at its New York City subsidiary. Last fall, the number-three trust bank announced that it would withdraw from international banking and focus on custody and securities lending operations (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 5). Global Plus gives Mitsui Trust's U.S. subsidiary the ability to link electronically with its clients and subcustodians worldwide.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Finalizing a wide-ranging agreement first announced a year ago, SONY CORP. will pay $187.5 million to acquire a 5 percent share in GENERAL INSTRUMENT CORP., the dominant supplier of set-top boxes to cable TV operators (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 8). At the same time, Sony will license its Aperios real-time operating system for digital set- top boxes and its Home Networking Module software for linking boxes to the Chicago-headquartered manufacturer for use in its second-generation digital set-top box products. They will be shipped to TELE-COMMUNICATIONS, INC. and other CATV operators during 1999. Last May, the then pending partners unveiled a prototype of a system that combined GI's DCT-5000+ interactive digital set-top box device and Sony's iLINK interface. It was designed to provide high-speed Internet access and video telephony as well as the ability to control digital devices from various makers from a TV set (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 7).

In the hope of responding more nimbly to the fast-expanding demand from communications carriers for equipment that enables them to deliver high- bandwidth voice and data services to customers, NEC AMERICA, INC. spun off its Access Products Division into a freestanding company. Capitalized at $10 million, NEC ELUMINANT TECHNOLOGIES, INC. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, with a R&D center in Portland, Oregon and a software development laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The 150-person company will continue to market and support APD's asynchronous multiplexers, digital loop carrier systems and SONET (synchronous optical network technology) multiplexers. eLUMINANT's mandate also includes enhancing the current product line, introducing new products that provide a bridge between existing copper- based loops and fiber optics and developing a new line of access products that are fiber-based systems.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Capping off a record production year at its three existing North American plants, TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. officially opened its full-size pickup truck/sport-utility plant in Princeton, Indiana. Volume output of the new Tundra pickup truck will start in February at TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING INDIANA, INC. Production is expected to hit 45,000 units in 1999 and then jump to 100,000 Tundras in 2000. Late that year, TMMI will launch production of a full-size sport-utility vehicle at a full-capacity annual rate of 50,000 units. Toyota expects its investment in the plant, which eventually will employ 2,300 people, to total $1.2 billion (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 9). With the addition of the Tundra, Toyota will have the capacity to produce 1.2 million cars and trucks in North America in 1999.

Production has started at TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s engine plant in Buffalo, West Virginia. For now, TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING WEST VIRGINIA, INC. is building four-cylinder Corolla engines, working up to full-capacity operations of 300,000 units a year. Late this year, TMMWV will add V-6 engines for the Camry and Avalon sedans and the Sienna minivan made in Georgetown, Kentucky as well as for the Camry Solara coupe produced in Ontario, Canada. Then in 2001, the plant will start to produce automatic transmissions for U.S.-assembled Camrys. That expansion will boost Toyota's total investment in TMMWV to $900 million (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 9).

With the growing number of Toyota and Lexus vehicles on the road in the United States, TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s U.S. sales and marketing arm has decided to build an $85 million parts distribution center in Hebron, Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. The Midwest Parts Center will stock North American-made replacement parts for delivery to dealers' service departments as well as aftermarket parts and port-installed components. Work on the facility will start in the spring of 1999, with operations scheduled for two years later. About 370 people will be employed at the 843,000-square-foot distribution center. Toyota has a relatively new national parts distribution center in Ontario, California, but it only handles parts brought in from Japan.

HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. will be the first automotive manufacturer to sell a hybrid-powered vehicle in the United States. A version of the V V, a two- door, two-seat concept car, will go on sale in the fall of 1999, roughly a year before TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s Prius hybrid will be available at U.S. dealerships (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 8). Both the V V and the Prius use a small gasoline engine and an electric motor to drive the wheels, with the motor powered by onboard batteries recharged by the engine. The two vehicles also run on gasoline and have a fuel efficiency between 65 miles per gallon and 70 mpg. The mechanical similarities end there. The two vehicles differ in size and weight. The steel- bodied Prius is a four-door sedan designed to seat five people, while the two- seater V V is built from aluminum and plastic to cut its weight. Honda also says that the V V will be able to meet California's Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standard proposed for 2001.

At a cost of some $100 million, AISIN AW CO., LTD. will construct a plant in Durham, North Carolina to make components for supply to TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s Buffalo, West Virginia engine and automatic transmission factory. Operations are slated to start in April 2001 at what eventually will be the 250-employee facility. It will make torque converters, oil pumps, clutches and stampings. For the last 10 years, Aisin AW has rebuilt automatic transmissions in Plymouth, Michigan. Its parent, AISIN SEIKI CO., LTD., has five U.S. manufacturing operations.

Starting in mid-2000, an equally owned joint venture between NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. affiliate KANSEI CORP. and TRW INC. will make air-bag crash sensors and other automotive electronics for supply to Nissan's factories in Smyrna, Tennessee and in Mexico (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 8). Manchester, Tennessee, which is not far from the Nissan plant or from Kansei's wholly owned, 14-year-old production facility in Lewisburg, will be home to the TRW KANSEI ELECTRONICS plant. The partners are looking for annual sales of $50 million at full-capacity operation.

In line to receive a contract from GENERAL MOTORS CORP. for a spring for one its high-end transmissions, AMERICAN MSC, INC. of Troy, Michigan is spending roughly $854,700 to install equipment to make this part. The MURATA SPRING CO., LTD. affiliate expects to start production in June at the rate of 600,000 units monthly. The order for the 4T65E transmission spring should enable American MSC to increase sales in FY 1999 beyond the $10 million estimated for the current fiscal year. The 11-year-old company hopes to keep revenues on an upward track by supplying a so-called bulb spring for the diesel engines that GM and ISUZU MOTORS LTD. will begin making in Moraine, Ohio in the fall of 2000 (see Japan-U.S.Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 9).

A Tier 1 supplier to FORD MOTOR CO. has awarded SAS RUBBER CO. a contract for power steering hosing for the Escort subcompact. Volume shipments were to start in January. Parent YOKOHAMA RUBBER CO., LTD. is weighing an investment of about $1.7 million to add a manufacturing line at the Painesville, Ohio company for this contract. SAS makes a variety of molded and extruded rubber products, primarily for other Japanese-affiliated manufacturers in the United States. It formerly was part of MOHAWK RUBBER CO., which Yokohama Rubber bought in 1989. SAS was spun off as an independent company in 1992.

The ownership of CT-SOUTH, INC., the second-largest producer of ductile iron thin-walled exhaust manifolds for cars and light trucks in North America, has changed hands. AUTOMOBILE FOUNDRY CO., LTD. and MITSUBISHI CORP., which bought the Marion, Alabama manufacturer in 1990 along with an American partner, sold the company to CITATION CORP. of Birmingham, Alabama for an undisclosed price. The 270-employee CT-South has annual sales of about $30 million but reportedly was not profitable, forcing majority owner Automobile Foundry (77 percent) to take a sizable loss on the transaction.

In a deal designed to accelerate the development and marketing of collision warning systems for cars, HITACHI, LTD. is collaborating with the Eaton VORAD unit of EATON CORP. on the microelectronics for a next-generation adaptive cruise control system. Hitachi brings to this job its work on radar- based microelectronics, while Eaton VORAD is contributing the experience it has gained from being the supplier of the only commercially available collision warning system for heavy-duty trucks in the United States. Its system, introduced in 1994, uses onboard radar to alert drivers to hazards that can cause accidents. Last June, Eaton VORAD began production of a monopulse radar system with adaptive cruise control for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. It can track up to 20 nearby vehicles. The cruise control feature automatically slows down or speeds up the truck based on traffic conditions.

The process of replacing the oldest subway cars in the New York City Transit fleet is developing into a big business for KAWASAKI RAIL CAR, INC. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently awarded the KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. subsidiary a contract worth $190 million to produce 100 subway cars for the L, or Canarsie, Line, with an option for up to 112 additional cars. The cars will be delivered in 2001. Final assembly will take place at Kawasaki Rail's Yonkers, New York plant. In July 1997, the company won a $540 million contract from MTA to supply 400 subway cars between 1999 and 2001. With the latest agreement, New York City Transit has ordered more than 1,000 subway cars from Kawasaki Rail going back 15-plus years; 553 of those have been delivered.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


The Tennessee Valley Authority has awarded CORMETECH, INC. a $68 million contract to install its ceramic-based catalysts at 10 TVA coal-fired power plants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama to reduce their smog-creating emissions of nitrogen oxide. The Durham, North Carolina manufacturer, in operation since 1992, is owned by MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. (35 percent), MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. (15 percent) and CORNING INC. (50 percent). Cormetech's selective catalytic reduction technology first will be applied at TVA's generating plant in Drakesboro, Kentucky this fall. The company expects to complete the entire project by 2003. Cormetech's ceramic honeycomb catalysts are designed to control harmful emissions from any stationary source.

FUJI KASUI INDUSTRY CO., LTD., a Tokyo-headquartered environmental engineering firm, has set up shop in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company's first offshore office initially will provide maintenance services for heavy industry's flue-gas desulfurization equipment, targeting Japanese-affiliated makers in the Midwest. Later, Fuji Kasui Industry plans to market its own flue-gas desulfurization system. For that move, the firm will try to tie up with an American company. It also has on the drawing boards an office in San Diego, California.

Japanese automotive parts manufacturers in the United States that want to install a local area network or intranet have a new service option. KDD CORP. subsidiary TELECOMET, INC. of New York City and the U.S. subsidiary of TOYOTA TSUSHO CORP. have launched an information systems construction business. For now, TELECOMET TECHNOSERVICE CORP., in which five-year-old Telecomet has a 55 percent stake, is marketing itself to TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. parts suppliers. The KDD affiliate's business, which generates revenues of about $12 million a year, has taken a hit because most of its customers are downsizing Japanese financial institutions.

Hoping to build its business in the United States and Europe, Japan's biggest advertising agency, DEN-TSU INC., is negotiating an alliance with LEO BURNETT CO. The tie-up could include a minority investment in the Chicago company, which ranks among the top three U.S. ad agencies in terms of billings. Since 1981, Dentsu has had a Manhattan joint venture with YOUNG & RUBICAM INC. This relationship would not be affected by a deal with Leo Burnett. However, that company's Japan-based joint venture with KYODO ADVERTISING CO., LTD. reportedly would be dissolved if an arrangement is finalized with Dentsu.

Business news from JIJI PRESS now is available to people who have access to the services of BUSINESS WIRE, a leading source of news about major U.S. corporations. The agreement was negotiated by ADEX LTD., Business Wire's longtime partner in Asia. That Japanese company will continue to serve as the news distributor's Asian operations center.

Subject to government approval, NIPPON CARGO AIRLINES CO., LTD. and NWA INC.'s Northwest Airlines will provide transpacific cargo code-sharing services. NCA will operate flights to Chicago and on to New York from Osaka, while Northwest will carry freight to the same destinations from Tokyo. As part of their expanded relationship, the Japanese all-cargo carrier will lease warehouse space from Northwest at Chicago's O'Hare Airport until it can build its own facility adjacent to the Northwest warehouse.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home

American Companies in Japan


By 2005, DOW CHEMICAL CO. hopes to supply between 8 percent and 10 percent of Japan's low-density polyethylene market, which is projected to be 2.2 million-plus tons that year. To reach this goal, the company plans to quadruple sales of high-performance linear LDPE, which provides superior durability among other desirable characteristics. Dow also will use its new Polyolefin Technical Center in Singapore and a similar facility in Japan to develop value-added polyethylene products for the Japanese market. Palo Alto, California's GENEASIA, INC. and Tokyo-based CMIC CO., LTD., Japan's largest provider of contract research organization services to the pharmaceutical industry, have set out to pioneer a new type of CRO business. In addition to traditional clinical testing services, it will provide contract research based on pharmacogenomics, GeneAsia's specialty. Pharmacogenomics uses genetics to better understand drug pharmacology. It is said to enhance the clinical assessment of drug profiles and also to ensure that new drug compounds have greater efficacy and lower toxicity. Diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis and obesity are the initial disease targets of the pharmacogenomics studies offered by GeneAsia and CMIC.

Japanese rights to Arthrotec, a treatment for the pain and inflammation of arthritis commercialized by the G.D. SEARLE & CO. unit of MONSANTO CO., have been licensed to KAKEN PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. Financial terms were not disclosed. Kaken hopes to have the drug, which has been approved for sale in 50 countries, on the local market around 2004. Arthrotec belongs to the popular group of drugs for treating pain and inflammation known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs).

Doctors now can tell in 10 minutes whether their patients have the flu. That breakthrough is the result of a diagnostic kit marketed by BECTON, DICKINSON AND CO.'s subsidiary, which uses an antigen-antibody reaction process to test a mucous membrane sample taken from the patient's nose or throat. A set of 20 kits has a suggested price of $425. Becton, Dickinson is forecasting that the kit will produce sales of $1.1 million in the first year.

MULTISORB TECHNOLOGIES, INC., the top North American producer of packaged sorbent products, including desiccants for absorbing moisture, is finding a bigger market in Japan through its three-year-old distribution arrangement with NIPPON KAKO-KIZAI CO., LTD. The Tokyo firm has found opportunities in the automotive industry for Multisorb's Saddleform desiccant bags, which keep the refrigerant gases in air-conditioning systems dry. Nippon Kako-Kizai also is marketing the Buffalo, New York manufacturer's Sorba-Ring desiccant bags, which are designed to filter impurities as well as to absorb moisture in AC systems; MiniPax sorbent packets for packaging applications; and DriCap cartridges, which absorb moisture in such products as pharmaceuticals, medical diagnostics and foods. With the improved market outlook, yearly sales of Multisorb products are forecast at $1.7 million.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


In a rare recent endorsement of American supercomputing technology, the government-funded Institute of Physical and Chemical Research awarded COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and bidding partner MITSUBISHI SPACE SOFTWARE CO., LTD. a $1.1 million contract for a massively parallel processing system built by Compaq along with other hardware and specialized software developed by the MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. affiliate. The system, which uses the Digital UNIX operating system, will be powered by 130 of Compaq's heavy-duty 64-bit Alpha RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) processors. The order is scheduled for delivery before the end of March. The research institute figures that by going with a massively parallel system, it paid only about half of what a traditional supercomputer would cost.

Linux, the open source-code version of the Unix operating system, is winning converts in Japan faster than many analysts anticipated. As a case in point, Kyoto Sangyo University ordered from the bidding team of IBM JAPAN LTD. and FUJI XEROX CO., LTD. an information-processing system that uses Linux but that also can run Windows NT. The computer maker will supply the system's PC servers, while Fuji Xerox will handle systems integration and installation. The system is scheduled to go on-line in April of this year.

In an efficiency-enhancing move, IBM JAPAN LTD. contracted with SUMITOMO METAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. to handle build-to-order configurations of some of its space-saving desktop PC models. SMI believes that this business could produce sales to IBM Japan of $85.5 million in FY 1999.

The problems in Japan's banking system are providing IBM JAPAN LTD. an unparalleled opportunity to expand its various information services operations. Last year, one of the company's subsidiaries hired many of the people who had worked at a computer affiliate of failed HOKKAIDO TAKUSHOKU BANK, LTD. as well as in the bank's systems department (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 11). Now, IBM Japan has formed a systems development company with nationalized LONG-TERM CREDIT BANK OF JAPAN, LTD. specializing in the requirements of the financial industry. CSD SOLUTION CO., LTD., in which the computer manufacturer has a 9.9 percent interest, has on staff 130 people transferred from LTCB and a computer systems development subsidiary. Initially, the joint venture will provide computer services to LTCB group companies. In time, though, it hopes to win contracts to design systems for the additional services that banks and other financial institutions are expected to offer, such as telephone banking, mutual funds and 401(k)-type pension plans.

Japan's no-growth PC market has come close to claiming its first casualty among American competitors. Direct marketer MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC. has decided that it no longer can justify the costs associated with this expensive method of selling. It consequently is switching to sales through dealers, a change that will result in a one-time charge to earnings of $3.2 million. Industry analysts say that the Nampa, Idaho company, a latecomer to Japan's PC market, never was able to develop the name recognition of fellow direct marketers DELL COMPUTER CORP. and GATEWAY 2000, INC. Although market trackers are finding some signs of life in PC sales, U.S. suppliers continue to search for ways to bolster business. For COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP., one response is what has been dubbed technical support in a box. Users of the company's PCs can purchase from dealers a hardware- support package ("red box") or a software-support package ("green box") that gives them, for example, same-day, on-site repair service by Compaq technicians or priority telephone support. .....For its part, IBM JAPAN LTD. is trying the solutions approach. It has teamed up with the subsidiary of AVID TECHNOLOGY, INC., a leader in the field of image processing and editing software, to provide packages for such applications as creating three- dimensional animation graphics or editing television programming. The package consists of IBM Japan's IntelliStation and Avid's Symphony and SOFTIMAGE|3D.

To ensure that it remains a leader in the high-end Unix server market in Japan as well as elsewhere, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. announced the HP 9000 V2500 Enterprise Server for the data center. As of mid-1999, the system will be able to harness the power of as many as 128 of the company's 440- MHz PA-8500 64-bit RISC processors thanks to HP's new scalable computing architecture and the 64-bit HP-UX 11 operating system. For now, it can be configured with up to 32 PA-8500 processors. Pricing starts at $609,400 for a two-processor machine with 1 GB of internal memory and a 4.3-GB hard disk drive. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. believes that it can sell 400 of the V2500 server in its first year of availability. It also will supply the system on an OEM basis to NEC CORP. and OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD.

Protecting its flank as well in the high-end Unix workstation market, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. introduced what its parent calls the fastest product in this category: the HP VISUALIZE Model C360. As with its new Unix server model, the company largely attributes the system's record-breaking performance in 3D mechanical computer-aided design and electronic design automation applications to the parallelism of its PA-RISC technology. The HP VISUALIZE Model C360, which uses a 367-MHz PA-8500 processor and comes with the HP VISUALIZE graphics package, lists for $34,000 and up. Given the performance available for this price, HP Japan expects to sell 25,000 units in 1999. MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. also will sell the new Unix workstation on an OEM basis.

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. also is marketing new Kayak PC workstation models, another part of its parent's strategy to retain the title of the world's leading shipper of Unix and Windows NT-based workstations. The revamped HP Kayak XA and HP Kayak XU PC Workstation lines bring the performance of 3D OpenGL graphics to digital content creators, animation designers and mechanical and geoscience engineers at competitive prices by incorporating EVANS & SUTHERLAND COMPUTER CORP.'s AccelGALAXY graphics subsystem. A HP Kayak XA PC Workstation with a 450-MHz Pentium II processor, AccelGALAXY graphics, 128 MB of synchronous DRAM memory and a 10.1-GB hard drive has a street price of about $6,100, while a HP Kayak XU PC Workstation, which supports one or two 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors, starts at $7,600 for a package that includes AccelGALAXY graphics, 128 MB of SDRAM and a 9.1-GB Ultra SCSI hard drive. HP Japan is looking to sell 17,000 of the new Kayak models.

The already crowded PC workstation market has a new competitor: GATEWAY 2000, INC. The direct marketer hope to carve out a niche by providing state-of-the-art technology at extremely competitive prices. A case in point is the $4,700 starting list price on the Gateway E-5250, a system that runs off one or two 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors. For even more budget-conscious corporate customers, $3,000 will buy the 350- MHz Pentium II Gateway E-5200 PC workstation.

UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary got a head start on the competition by putting on the market the first enterprise servers running off the 450-MHz version of the Pentium II Xeon processor. Capable of four-way processing, the Aquanta QS/2V and its rack-mounted counterpart, the Aquanta QR/2V, ship with a choice of 512 KB, 1 MB or 2 MB Level-2 cache, as much as 4 GB of ECC- buffered EDO (extended data-out) memory and 4-GB or 9-GB hard disk drives as well as seven expansion slots and six hot-swap drive bays. Unisys priced the base configuration of the Aquanta QS/2V at $20,500.

Topping off its new line of PC servers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 12), GATEWAY 2000, INC. unveiled the ALR 9200 enterprise server. Like other such products, the new model, which can harness the power of up to four 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors, runs Windows NT. However, the ALR 9200 also can support a version of the Solaris operating system written for the Pentium II Xeon processor, SCO UnixWare and Novell NetWare. Pricing starts at $16,200. Gateway's subsidiary has contracted with EUROTEC INFORMATION SYSTEMS K.K. to provide support services.

In the second quick upgrade of its workgroup server entry, direct marketer GATEWAY 2000, INC. released the ALR 7300. It is powered by one or two 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors. About $4,300 will buy a system with a single processor, 128 MB of internal memory, a 4.5-GB hard disk drive, a 13X CD-ROM drive, a diskette drive and six slots.

Although MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC. is changing its marketing approach in Japan, the company remains focussed on serving midmarket businesses. The latest product targeted at this segment is the NetFRAME 2100 server. This entry-level workgroup server supports one or two Pentium II processors and provides room to grow for the affordable starting price of $3,000.

For now, American PC vendors have shifted their desktop market focus -- at least in terms of product introductions -- from the corporate sector to the home buyer. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. was about the only supplier to add products for businesses. And, as the name suggests, the new Deskpro Value Series is targeted at the cost-cutting company. Equipped with a 333-MHz Celeron processor, the Windows 98 machines start at $2,000.

Value pricing also is the common denominator of the new home-oriented PCs, although most manufacturers did add one or more machines with all the latest bells and whistles. For example, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP., which is looking to double sales of home PCs in 1999 with help from distributor CANON SALES CO., INC., expanded its Presario family with four new models. Two use ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC.'s less expensive AMD-K6-2 processor. The Presario 2274 has an estimated street price of less than $1,500. That covers a machine with a 300-MHz processor, 64 MB of internal memory, a 4-GB hard disk drive and a 15-inch monitor. For about $2,000, people can buy the Presario 5150, which uses a 350-MHz version of the AMD processor and provides 64 MB of internal memory, an 8-GB hard drive, a DVD drive and a 17-inch display.

DELL COMPUTER CORP. opted to go with a 333-MHz Celeron processor for the basic model of its Dimension V line, a choice that helped to keep the price around $1,500. That includes 128 MB of system memory, 6.4 GB of storage and a 17-inch CRT. GATEWAY 2000, INC. chose the same engine for the G6- 333C, one of four new models. The base configuration of 64 MB of internal memory, a 6.4-GB hard drive, a DVD drive and a 15-inch display costs under $1,400. The GP6-333CC, which has the same standard features but not the extras, is an even more affordable $1,100.

For its part, IBM JAPAN LTD., which recently introduced the inexpensive, Japan-only Aptiva DIJ home PC (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 12), extended the value-pricing concept to its notebooks. The ThinkPad i Series starts at $2,000 for the Model 1430, which sports a 266-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, 64 MB of system memory, a 3.2-GB hard drive and a 12.1-inch TFT LCD screen. About $300 more buys the Model 1450 with extra storage (4.3 GB) and a bigger display (13.3 inches). The ThinkPad family also has a new mininotebook. The $2,200 ThinkPad 235 uses the same processor as its cousins but has 32 MB of internal storage, a 4-GB hard disk drive and a 9.2-inch TFT LCD display.

In a first for the world's number-one PC seller, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. released a product in Japan before introducing it in other markets. That choice was not surprising given that the thin, lightweight Presario 1915 notebook for individuals was designed to capitalize on local market trends. Measuring about 1.5 inches thick and weighing roughly 4.5 pounds, the portable provides a number of extras, including a DVD player, a VD2-ROM drive and one-touch Internet access, for just $2,600-plus. The Presario 1915's power is supplied by a 266-MHz Pentium II chip.

Is the market ready for "wearable" PCs, particularly if they have a list price of $6,800? XYBERNAUT CORP., a pioneer in this field, soon will find out. Early in 1999, the Fairfax, Virginia company will open a wholly owned subsidiary to market its Mobile Assistant IV. The MA IV, with its head-mounted display, packs a 200-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, 32 MB of memory (expandable to 128 MB) and a 2.1-GB hard drive into a package about the size of a portable cassette player. Xybernaut hopes to sell 6,000 MA IVs in Japan in 1999 out of a worldwide total of 20,000 machines.

Enterprise storage and data management problems are no less severe in Japan than they are in the United States. That reality persuaded COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. to introduce its open, standards-based solution, the Enterprise Network Storage Architecture. Comprising storage products, servers, network infrastructure, bridges and other linking devices, and management tools, Compaq ENSA, in the company's words, "transforms storage into a flexible, shared resource throughout an enterprise." It does this by pooling vast amounts of storage and automatically allocating capacity on an as-needed basis to distributed application servers.

The relatively new line of Auspex NetServer NS 8000 network file servers from AUSPEX SYSTEMS, INC., which are dedicated to storing, serving and managing network data, now has a third member targeted at large corporate environments (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 15). The midrange 400 model incorporates the Santa Clara, California company's network-attached storage subsystem for greater storage density and other new features and functionality advances found in the other two products. Its pricing starts at $102,600.

DELL COMPUTER CORP. also has expanded its recently introduced line of PowerVault storage subsystems that can be shared by multiple host servers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 13). The PowerVault 200S, which has an Ultra 2/LVD SCSI interface, scales from a minimum of 4 GB of storage and provides data transmission at a rate of 80 megabits a second. The base configuration costs $3,000.

IOMEGA CORP. has released its own high-capacity external Zip drive that works with the Universal Serial Bus interface, targeting sales at buyers of APPLE COMPUTER, INC.'s popular iMac computer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 14). Only an English-language version is available now, but a localized Zip USB drive will be on the market in February.

Sales have started of the MO DataStation DS-640, an IBM JAPAN LTD. magneto-optical disk drive that accepts PC Cards. The disk in the initial unit, which costs $770, rotates 3,600 times a minute. A faster, slightly more expensive model will be released in February.

The Cyclone family of network print servers from COLORBUS, INC. has two more members. Designed to work with color copiers from either CANON INC. or RICOH CO., LTD., the $11,100 Cyclone Office and the Cyclone Professional make these machines on-demand networked color printers in Windows NT environments. The Irvine, California company's subsidiary expects to sell a combined total of 1,000 of the new Cyclone products annually.

Digital photo printing as well as standard PC-origin printing is possible with LEXMARK INTERNATIONAL, INC.'s Photo Jetprinter 5770 since the $510 printer can be operated without a PC. For both photos and text, the ink-jet printer provides a resolution of 1200 x 1200 dots per inch. In text mode, the Photo Jetprinter 5770 prints up to 8 pages per minute in black and white and as many as 4 ppm in color.

Hoping to streamline information distribution, FAMILYMART CO., LTD., the third-largest convenience store operator in Japan, ordered 5,400 color ink- jet printers from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The DeskJet 694C photo- quality printers will be placed in all of the company's stores to print out product-related information received from headquarters via in-store PCs. Installation is to be finished in February.

In a worldwide release, MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC. introduced a space-saving 15-inch TFT LCD flat panel display. Offered as an upgrade for the company's Millennia and ClientPro desktop machines, the display, which has built-in multimedia speakers, allows documents to be viewed in either landscape or portrait mode. In Japan, the product is priced around $1,100.

The NETSCREEN TECHNOLOGIES, INC. family of integrated security products is available through HITACHI SEIBU SOFTWARE, LTD. Unlike conventional software-based security solutions, the three-model line combines firewall, virtual private networking and traffic management functionality on a single, dedicated ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit)-based hardware platform. The NetScreen-1000, NetScreen-100 and NetScreen-10 operate at 1 gigabit per second, 100 Mbps and 10 Mbps, respectively. The NetScreen- 100 costs about $16,900; the NetScreen-10 goes for $6,800. The HITACHI, LTD. affiliate plans to sell 10,000 of the Santa Clara, California company's products within three years. HITACHI ELECTRONICS SERVICES, LTD. is providing support services.

Extending its string of design wins at FUJITSU, LTD., the Viper V550 graphics accelerator from San Jose, California-based DIAMOND MULTIMEDIA SYSTEMS, INC. is being used in several new desktop computers for the local market. The Viper V550 8-MB AGP (accelerated graphics port) accelerator is the standard graphics accelerator for the FMV-6400TX2 and FMV-6450TX2 Pentium II desktop systems for the corporate market, while the Viper V500 16-MB AGP graphics board is included in the FMV-DESKPOWER TVIII457 Pentium II machine for the power consumer market.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Construction has started of the first assisted-living facility built by SANYO EMERITUS CORP., a partnership formed last spring between EMERITUS CORP. of Seattle, an integrated senior housing services company, and SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 14). The 116-unit complex is located in Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture. Expected to open in December 1999, it will provide residents with meals, activities and help with dressing and other everyday events. What sets the facility apart from the few other true assisted-living operations in Japan is that the apartments will be rented on a month-to-month basis. The monthly fee will range from $2,100 to $3,200, depending on the size of the apartment selected. An OBAYASHI CORP. affiliate is the prime contractor.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


K&L MICROWAVE INC. of Salisbury, Maryland is providing technical support to SOGO ELECTRONICS INC. for the design and production of microwave and RF (radio frequency) subassemblies for sale in Japan. The specific products covered by the contract are switched filter banks and switch filter multiplexes. The Tokyo-based company expects to complete commercialization this spring. It has forecast initial-year sales of the subassemblies at between $170,900 and $256,400 but believes the business will grow strongly over time.

Safety connectors manufactured by KING SAFETY PRODUCTS of St. Charles, Missouri now are available in the western part of Japan through OSAKA TOKIWA SHOKO CO., LTD. Tokyo-based SCS JAPAN LTD., which handles distribution in the rest of the country, arranged the deal. The two companies are marketing King Safety's moisture-resistant safety connector for indoor use as well as a waterproof part and an underground type for outdoor applications. None of the products requires special tools for installation, and all the connectors can be used with virtually any size wire. Osaka Tokiwa Shoko is projecting sales of $1.3 million in the first year and $4.3 million after three years.

As many as 1,000 of WELCH ALLYN, INC.'s high-performance SCANTEAM 5700 Series handheld laser scanners could be sold in 1999, distributor AINIX CORP. predicts. Although the four models in the 5700 line are suitable for any general-purpose application given their wide range of resolution and their extended reading distance, the Tokyo company is targeting sales at manufacturers of semiconductors, hard disk drives and other products made in cleanroom environments. Skaneateles Falls, New York Welch Allyn has a 5700 scanner designed for these stringent requirements. Pricing of the line starts at $1,700.

Color no longer is a problem for people interested in buying BOSE CORP.'s five-channel home speaker system. Previously available only in black, the AM- 1011W now comes in white. The system, which consists of five very compact speakers and a bass module, costs $1,000. Stands must be
purchased separately.

APPLE COMPUTER, INC. licensed its FireWire technology to MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and subsidiary MATSUSHITA ELECTRONICS CORP. for use in the semiconductors, consumer electronics and other products they make. FireWire is the basis for the IEEE 1394 standard. It already has been adopted by MEI and other camcorder manufacturers as the standard for transferring digital video from digital camcorders to devices like PCs. FireWire also represents the coming standard for connecting PCs with high-speed peripherals, including printers, scanners and disk drives.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Japan's vast pool of low-yielding personal savings remains a magnet for American financial services providers that see a way to make money by managing these assets. The latest company to try to tap these funds is PAINEWEBBER GROUP INC. It has teamed up with YASUDA MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. and that company's YASUDA CAPITAL MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. to develop, sponsor and manage mutual funds and other retail asset management products. PaineWebber, the number-four U.S. brokerage house, has a 45 percent stake in Tokyo-headquartered YASUDA PAINEWEBBER MUTUAL FUND CO., which will begin operations in April. The joint venture will use the life insurer's nationwide sales force of more than 15,000 people to market such investment products as money market mutual funds, 401(k)- equivalent pension plans incorporating mutual funds and mutual fund wrap accounts. Yasuda Mutual Life, Japan's seventh-largest life insurer in terms of assets, has been a PaineWebber shareholder since 1987. It currently owns 8.1 percent of the company's stock.

Financial intermediaries in Japan have another choice of investment products for retail and institutional clients. FIRST UNION CORP., which ranks as the sixth-biggest U.S. bank and the eighth-largest brokerage, is opening a sales and service operation in Tokyo to market Evergreen mutual funds and other investment products. This initiative is a collaboration between the Charlotte, North Carolina bank's Capital Management Group and its International Division. Through its 1998 acquisition of CORESTATES CORP., First Union gained an office in Japan that has been in operation since 1975.

PRUDENTIAL-MITSUI TRUST INVESTMENT CO., LTD., which opened for business at the beginning of October (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 14), is offering three mutual fund products designed for Japanese retail customers. They are available through MITSUI TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD.'s branches. In 1999, the joint venture intends to introduce at least three more mutual funds that will be packaged with financial planning advice and investment education from equal owner PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE CO. OF AMERICA.

The prospect that a 401(k)-type defined contribution pension system will be put in place in Japan in FY 2000 or even in FY 1999 is attracting considerable interest from American specialists in this field. Already, for instance, the international arm of CIGNA CORP. has announced plans to form an equally owned company with YASUDA FIRE & MARINE INSURANCE CO., LTD. to market pension and investment products. The joint venture, which is expected to be formed in April and to launch sales in September, will be able to tap the extensive distribution network of Yasuda Fire & Marine, Japan's number-two nonlife insurer, and CIGNA's expertise in developing defined contribution pension plans. Investors also will have access to existing mutual funds managed by affiliates of CIGNA and Yasuda Fire & Marine. The two companies have worked together for some 25 years. In Japan, they own INA HIMAWARI LIFE INSURANCE CO., which offers a range of life, endowment and hospitalization products. CIGNA also sells a variety of property-casualty insurance in Japan through CIGNA ACCIDENT & FIRE INSURANCE CO., LTD. .....Meanwhile, FIDELITY INVESTMENTS JAPAN LTD. will set up a unit to map out its approach to the coming defined contribution pension system. The company's parent is the top provider of 401(k) retirement savings plans in the United States. Fidelity Japan currently manages nearly $2.5 billion in defined benefit pension plan assets for more than 40 local firms.

Asset manager FISCHER FRANCIS TREES & WATTS INC., which specializes in fixed-income portfolios for institutional clients, reportedly is in talks with NIKKO SECURITIES INVESTMENT TRUST & MANAGEMENT CO., LTD., a NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. subsidiary, to advise it on international investments for new bond mutual funds. New York City-based FFTW set up a Japanese affiliate in 1996.

In order to offer corporate clients a broader range of financial instruments, including Japanese government bonds swaps and options, FIRST CHICAGO TOKIO MARINE FINANCIAL PRODUCTS LTD. has applied to the Ministry of Finance to convert to a brokerage house. Established in November 1997, the equally owned venture between big bank holding company FIRST CHICAGO NBD CORP. and TOKIO MARINE & FIRE INSURANCE CO., LTD., Japan's top nonlife insurer, now is licensed as a dealer in derivatives.

Standard & Poor's Financial Information Services, a division of MCGRAW-HILL COS., INC., is in talks with the Tokyo Stock Exchange to explore opportunities for indexing in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. The objective, says S&P, is to provide liquid and investable equity indices as well as index funds, futures, options and other index-linked products that would give the international investment community greater exposure to corporate Japan. Among its other services, S&P calculates and maintains the S&P 500 for the U.S. stock market.

More American firms are willing to bet that real estate bought at a deep discount will appreciate in value over time. Among the latest is the commercial mortgage unit of GENERAL MOTORS ACCEPTANCE CORP., the second-largest nonbank financial concern in the United States. GMAC COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE CORP., which set up a Tokyo operation in late 1997, has purchased to date in cooperation with other foreign investors property- backed nonperforming loans with a book value of more than $3.4 billion. Now, GMACCM plans to invest at least $300 million and perhaps substantially more in real estate-related bad loans. It also expects to become a third-party servicer, which collects the money owned on real estate-secured loans, as well as to lend to investors in Japan's real estate market.

Through its year-old joint venture, electronics industry leasing equipment giant COMDISCO, INC. will start a leaseback program for semiconductor production equipment. Tokyo-headquartered COMITO EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT SERVICES, in which ITOCHU CORP. has a 40 percent stake, hopes to sign leaseback contracts worth $854.7 million by the end of 2000. By selling equipment to Comito and then leasing it back, chip manufacturers reduce depreciation costs.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


Year-old OPTIMUM QUALITY GRAINS, L.L.C., which uses biotechnology to develop value-added grains and oilseeds, will make a major push into the Japanese market in 1999. The Des Moines, Iowa joint venture between E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. and PIONEER HI-BRED INTERNATIONAL, INC. hopes that corn and soybeans produced in the United States with its technology eventually will capture 10 percent of the Japanese market for these commodities. DuPont's subsidiary already has applied to the Ministries of Health and Welfare and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for marketing approval for genetically engineered Optimum high oleic soybeans. Optimum Quality also plans to sell its Optimum high sucrose soybeans and Optimum high-protein soybeans in Japan along with its Optimum high oil corn, which has twice the oil of typical corn. ITOCHU CORP. is handling imports.

The National Nutritional Foods Association will use its just-established subsidiary to work with MHW to liberalize the import and sale of dietary supplements. The Newport Beach, California-based trade group, which represents suppliers of health foods, dietary supplements and natural- ingredient cosmetics as well as health food stores, hopes to enroll as local members the growing number of U.S. dietary supplement and health foods companies with a corporate presence in Japan.

Starting in February, CANANDAIGUA WINE CO.'s Inglenook red, white and rose wines will be available through an affiliate of TAKARA SHUZO CO., LTD. The Richmond, California vintner is shipping its product in 750-milliliter, 1.5-liter and 3-liter containers. A 750-ml bottle costs about $7.40. Canandaigua is the second American wine company that sake brewer Takara Shuzo represents.

As many as 76 TGI Friday's restaurants could be opened over the next 10 years as a result of a development agreement between TGI FRIDAY'S INC. and WATAMI FOOD SYSTEMS CO., LTD. The Dallas company, a subsidiary of CARLSON RESTAURANTS WORLDWIDE INC., and the operator of more than 100 Japanese-style restaurants formed a joint venture in which TGI Friday's is a minority partner (20 percent) to bring the Friday's version of American- style casual dining to Japan. The first Friday's could be open as soon as June in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


By the spring of 2000, SHIN CATERPILLAR MI-TSUBISHI LTD. expects to be manufacturing hydraulic valves for use in its own earthmoving equipment as well as for supply to CATERPILLAR INC. construction equipment plants in Asia. The factory and a supporting development center will be built at an estimated cost of $17.1 million in Kanagawa prefecture, where Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi makes its small hydraulic excavators. In time, the long- running joint venture between the world's top maker of earthmoving equipment and MI-TSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. could be shipping hydraulic valves to Cat's plants in the United States and in Europe.

Three of HYPERTHERM, INC.'s Powermax air plasma cutting systems are now available in Japan through distributor LLE CO., LTD. of Aichi prefecture. The Hanover, New Hampshire manufacturer's products cut most metals. The portable Powermax350, which costs $1,700, can cut through 1/4-inch thicknesses of steel, while the manual Powermax900 cuts ferrous metals up to 7/8-inch thick; it lists for $3,000. For heavy-duty metal cutting, Hypertherm has the portable Powermax1100; it has a maximum capacity of 1 inch. LLE believes that it can sell 200 Powermax systems a year.

Last year's acquisition of Shelton, Connecticut-based AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY, INC. by EMERSON ELECTRIC CO. through its BRANSON ULTRASONIC CORP. subsidiary in Danbury, Connecticut has given Emerson Electric's local marketing unit a broader range of ultrasonic welding equipment to sell. Its first AmTech ultrasonic welder is being targeted at high-precision fabrication and assembly of lithium batteries and automotive- use electronic parts. At $25,000 to $30,000, the welder is almost twice the cost of a conventional resistance welder, but it not only produces more precise welds but, by eliminating the use of welding materials, also saves some money.

FOX INSTRUMENT AND AIR BEARING, INC., a Livermore, California manufacturer that specializes in precision electromechanics using air-bearing technology, has named JAPAN LASER CORP. of Tokyo to sell its products. These include an ultrasonic ceramic motor, an ultraprecision positioning system and Fox Instrument's mainstay air bearings and air bearing spindles. Because the components are designed to stringent submicron requirements, they are used in wafer steppers, inspection machines, microscopes and a long list of other precision equipment.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


In an interesting twist, the U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese company has opened a branch office in Tokyo. PULNIX AMERICA, INC. was formed in 1982 to market security and other products made by affiliates of TAKENAKA GROUP CENTER CO., LTD. Very quickly, though, the Sunnyvale, California- headquartered company made a name for itself as a developer and a manufacturer of industrial cameras. For example, it pioneered the progressive scan interline transfer camera and several other "non-TV"- format cameras. Now, PULNiX hopes to win more business in Japan for its products, starting with various PULNiX monochrome and color progressive scan CCD and interlace scan cameras. PULNiX also is marketing several types of Intelligent Transportation Systems cameras as well as such intelligent cameras as the Ethernet camera series and the ZICAM zero instruction set camera, plus custom-design cameras. At first, the company expects to do only about $854,700 worth of business a year in Japan, but it hopes to build annual sales to $8.5 million-plus.

Digital projectors have come to Japan through EASTMAN KODAK CO. Its KODAK DP1050 Ultra Digital Projector, which is built for travel at under 10 pounds, provides XGA (1024 x 768) resolution. The unit's Image Manager technology also finds at the touch of a button the best projection for the presentation, whether it is photos, graphics or spreadsheets. Another feature of the projector that Kodak is touting is its ability to project an ultra-bright image that stands out even in a well-lit room.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


The 24th IMATRON INC. Ultrafast CT (computed tomography) scanner, which is based on the South San Francisco, California company's scanning electron beam technology, was shipped to an unnamed Japanese customer at the end of 1998. The firm said that it found this order particularly encouraging because its business in Japan did not live up to expectations last year. The demand for Imatron's high-end CT scanners was there, but potential buyers had trouble arranging financing. Radiologists have an advanced tool in the KODAK DIGITAL SCIENCE Computed Radiography System 400 Plus from EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary. The system directly captures general radiographic studies as digital images and processes them so that differences in anatomic densities are perceived as equal differences in brightness across the full density range. That capability, Kodak says, delivers consistent, high-quality images that require little or no adjustment by the radiologist. Cutting-edge technology usually costs, though. For the CR 400 Plus system, it is $200,900.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has approved for sale AMERICAN BIOMED, INC.'s silicone balloon catheter product line. However, the Woodlands, Texas company's distributor, MEDICAL LEADERS LTD., still is waiting for MHW to clear for marketing American BioMed's OmniCath atherectomy catheter, which is used to remove atherosclerotic plaque from obstructed blood vessels throughout the body. .....Meanwhile, BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP.'s local operation is predicting annual sales of 10,000 units for a recently introduced balloon catheter used in percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. The catheter is available in diameters of 20 millimeters and 30mm. The former costs $2,400; the latter goes for $2,600.

Airports in Japan looking to add explosion detection systems to their automated baggage-handling equipment have a new option. INVISION TECHNOLOGIES, INC., the manufacturer of the CTX series of explosive detection systems, and its distributor have teamed up with TOYO KANETSU K.K., a major maker of baggage-handling and other materials-handling equipment, to jointly market the Newark, California company's products. The trio plans to establish a center to demonstrate their combined capabilities in the security field and a training facility where security personnel can be instructed in the use of InVision's systems. The three firms also expect to develop future electronic detection systems using the American partner's computed tomography technology for installation in Japanese airports. In addition, they will market InVision products for the commercial security market. InVision and Toyo Kanetsu worked together to develop an integrated security system for the new international airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The PurePulse Technologies unit of MAXWELL TECHNOLOGIES INC. has given SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. nonexclusive rights to sell its PureBright water- purification products for home and commercial applications in Japan. Sanyo Electric and San Diego, California-headquartered Maxwell also are discussing collaborative marketing efforts elsewhere in the world. As part of the Japan tie-up, PurePulse has the option of outsourcing production of high-volume PureBright products to the Japanese company

The Fisher-Rosemount unit of FISHER CONTROLS INTERNATIONAL, INC., a world leader in process control equipment and an EMERSON ELECTRIC CO. business, is going after 15 percent of the local mass flowmeter market. Key to this goal are Coriolis mass flowmeters used in plants that make chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food products. Sales of Fisher-Rosemount mass flowmeters are being handled by the renamed F-R INTEX CO., LTD., which Emerson's subsidiary acquired last fall (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 18). F-R Intex has opened a production inspection facility in Chiba prefecture to ensure that Fisher-Rosemount's products meet corporate Japan's exacting requirements.

Under an April 1995 partnership agreement, XMR, INC., a major manufacturer of excimer lasers used in the production of flat panel displays, and SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. have codeveloped a high-power (200-watt) excimer laser for volume output of low-temperature TFT LCD displays. SHI will make the complete system, eyeing a spring 1999 introduction. This is a first for the company. Until now, XMR has supplied the excimer laser and the optics critical to providing beam uniformity during the annealing process, while SHI, a minority investor in the Fremont, California firm and its exclusive distributor, made the other parts.

CANYON MATERIALS, INC., a supplier of gray-level masks, has tapped JAPAN LASER CORP. to represent it in Japan. At the heart of the San Diego, California company's product is its HEBS (high energy beam sensitive) glass. Its properties allow one-step fabrication of a true gray-level mask, with exposure achieved using a standard electron-beam writing tool. As a result, mask production costs are reduced. Moreover, HEBS glass is capable of resolutions in the molecular-dimension range, making the gray-level masks applicable to such fields as diffractive and holographic devices, miniaturized systems with micro-optics and micromechanics, and opto-electronic packaging.

The late 1997 opening of an applications center at VEECO INSTRUMENTS INC.'s Tokyo subsidiary and the establishment of a service center in the Osaka area seem to be paying off for the Plainview, New York process equipment manufacturer. The company has received orders worth more than $9 million for etch and deposition equipment from three major Japanese makers of data storage products. The orders are primarily for cluster tool combinations of Veeco's ion beam deposition, ion beam etching and physical vapor deposition products. The equipment will be used to make high-density magnetoresistive and giant magnetoresistive thin-film magnetic heads. Deliveries will be spread out over the first half of 1999.

NEWPORT CORP., a world leader in precision components and systems used in the development and application of laser and optical technologies, named HAKUTO CO., LTD. to market its MAT350, a 300mm (12-inch) wafer positioning motion platform. The linear motor-driven system, priced at $33,000, is designed specifically for the most demanding submicron semiconductor processing applications, the Irvine, California manufacturer says. Hakuto is projecting sales of $854,700 in the first year.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


COMIT SYSTEMS, INC. hopes to capitalize on what it sees as growing interest among semiconductor manufacturers in outsourcing hardware and software design and development services. To do that, the Santa Clara, California business, which provides design and development engineering services not only to build chips but also boards and systems, opened an electronics design center in the Kanagawa Science Park in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture.

A complete three-channel signal processor for CCD or CIS (contact image sensor) color scanners, faxes and multifunctional machines, and industrial and medical imaging systems is on the market from BURR-BROWN CORP.'s subsidiary. The VSP3000 is priced at $13 per part in quantities of 100.

Year-old POWERSMART, INC., a Shelton, Connecticut spin-off from DURACELL INTERNATIONAL INC., believes that Japan will start off as a $1.7 million annual market for its energy-regulating chips and develop into a $8.5-million- a-year market from April 2001. Achievement of those goals will be in the hands of distributor TOMEN ELECTRONICS CORP. Marketing will begin this spring. The launch PowerSmart product will be an energy controller chip for lithium-ion and nickel-metal-hydride battery packs used in notebook PCs and mobile telephones. It is expected to be priced around $3.90. .....NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s subsidiary is sampling a DC/DC switching regulator that takes up only half the space of competing products. The part, which has an output current of 1 ampere, also is targeted at notebook PCs, mobile phones and similar applications. The samples cost $3.40 each in quantities of 250.

The first desktop PC family incorporating an all-digital video interface has been released in Japan. The enabling technology in the four-model HITACHI, LTD. line is provided by SILICON IMAGE, INC.'s PanelLink protocol. Each computer incorporates a PanelLink transmitter chip that originates a digital video signal. The signal then is sent over a low-cost cable to the digital flat panel display, which has a companion PanelLink receiver chip. Cupertino, California-based Silicon Image expects other PC manufacturers, both Japanese and American, to release PanelLink digital-equipped PCs as well as stand-alone flat panel displays in Japan in 1999.

OAK TECHNOLOGY, INC. has licensed MATSUSHITA ELECTRONICS CORP. to use on a royalty-paying basis its OTI-9150 CD-ROM controller core, device drivers and firmware. MEC is using the Sunnyvale, California firm's intellectual property to develop highly integrated, low-cost CD-ROM drive controllers.

In the first phase of a long-term contract, CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC. will adapt what SHARP CORP. calls a data-driven media processor for system-on-a-chip applications. The San Jose, California company, the world's top electronic design automation specialist, will "socketize" the DDMP core to comply with Virtual Socket Interface Alliance standards, thereby making the asynchronous media processor adaptable to a variety of handheld and other consumer electronic products. The new partners see a big market for Sharp's DDMP, given its high-performance, high-throughput capabilities -- it is said to process data roughly 10 times faster than comparable parts -- and low power requirements.

In back-to-back announcements, SILICON GENESIS CORP. disclosed that it had won a contract from wafer manufacturer KOMATSU ELECTRONIC METALS CO., LTD. for a plasma implant system and that the two companies had signed a research agreement. Campbell, California SiGen expects to deliver its PIII (plasma immersion ion implantation) system to a Komatsu Electronic R&D facility by mid-1999. The system will be used for production qualification work for silicon-on-insulator wafer manufacturing. SiGen claims that its technology enables the implantation of ions into a silicon wafer more efficiently and more quickly than alternative implant processes. Under the research agreement, the new partners will evaluate the application of PIII technology to the implantation of oxygen into silicon. That is a key step in the SPIMOX (separation by plasma implantation of oxygen) oxygen implantation process, which has considerable potential for making cutting- edge SOI wafers cost-effective to produce.

LAM RESEARCH CORP. is targeting annual sales of five of its Teres chemical mechanical planarization systems in Japan. The Fremont, California manufacturer's next-generation system, used to polish the surfaces of wafers to a flat, uniform finish during the photolithographic process, features several innovations. For starters, Teres incorporates a high-speed linear belt rather than the typical rotating table. The belt travels linearly across the wafer's surface using higher pad speed and lower surface pressure than competing CMP systems. According to Lam, that yields higher material removal rates and more uniform wafer planarization. In addition, the system cleans the wafer's surface after it is planarized. The Teres CMP system costs about $2.6 million.

Rapid thermal processing equipment could shape up to be as big a product for MATTSON TECHNOLOGY INC. as its photoresist strip equipment, judging by the orders for five of the Fremont, California manufacturer's Aspen RTP systems that its distributor, MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP., placed. The Aspen system is designed for rapid thermal processing on current and next- generation DRAM, static RAM and flash memories as well as microprocessors and other logic devices. Shipments of the Japan orders were to have started in December.

With yield problems multiplying as chip designs become ever more complex, FEI CO. expects strong demand for its XL860 DualBeam defect- characterization system. A dual-column system like the XL860 integrates the analytical capabilities of a focused ion beam system and a scanning electron microscope. That combination, the Hillsboro, Oregon company says, helps to reduce the time required to solve difficult yield problems. FEI's wholly owned subsidiary, in business since 1996, hopes to sell 50 systems in 1999, with most being the XL860 and the rest the previous-generation XL830.

The semiconductor industry's first wafer-level back-end process, dubbed WOW, short for wafer on wafer, is the ambitious goal of a partnership between FORMFACTOR, INC. and SHINKO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES CO., LTD., a manufacturer of leadframes and semiconductor packages. WOW technology spans sort, burn-in, low-speed test and high-speed test functions, all performed on a complete wafer. At the heart of the WOW process is FormFactor's MicroSpring contact, which, attached directly to the wafer, created an integrated die contact eliminating conventional device packaging. The Livermore, California firm and Shinko initially are developing the WOW process to support RAMBUS INC.'s Direct RDRAM and synchronous DRAM memory modules, although in the future, they plan to extend the technology to other products like flash memories. FormFactor licensed its WOW process technology to Shinko, which expects to have capacity for volume production in late 1999. In the meantime, the partners will build sample quantities of customer devices using the WOW process.

The QuickSilver line of automated inspection equipment has been introduced by the subsidiary of manufacturer ELECTROGLAS, INC. The four products are designed to replace optical inspection of wafers for defects by human operators -- an increasingly error-prone, slow and expensive process. Santa Clara, California Electroglas says that one of its QuickSilver systems can achieve the same throughput as six or more optical inspection stations at up to a 40 percent lower total cost of ownership. The system can identify, measure and classify such wafer defects as residue and pinholes as well as pattern variations. It also can perform critical dimension measurements to locate and quantify photomask or development defects. In addition, QuickSilver equipment can handle flip-chip packaging with its small conductive bumps of solder. Pricing of the automated inspection line starts at $600,000.

The Automated Test Equipment unit of SCHLUMBERGER LTD. has released in Japan the ETC 1000 thermal control system. Designed to provide both die and transistor-junction temperature control, the $153,800 system is said to be particularly suited to such high-power devices as microprocessors and system-on-a-chip ASICs. One advantage of the ETC 1000 is that the operator does not need to attach a heat sink or a slug to a device for testing.

Minneapolis-headquartered MICRO CONTROL CO. has moved into the Japanese market, tapping IWATANI INTERNATIONAL CORP. as the exclusive distributor of its bench-top automatic test equipment for testing memory boards and devices. Osaka-based Iwantani, which specializes in industrial gases, expects to sell 15 of Micro Control's systems in 1999. If it achieves that target, revenues will amount to about $6 million.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


AMERICA ONLINE INC. has fired back in the heated Internet portal battle by bringing popular features on its American site to Japan. Foremost is the introduction of AOL Instant Messenger, an easy-to-use chat system that can tell users if any of their friends also are on-line at the moment and initiate a two-way dialogue. In addition, AOL has improved its e-mail interface, another popular Internet service.

In a pairing of heavyweights, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has teamed with NTT DATA CORP. to add Internet functionality to the Automatic Answer Network System for Electronic Requests, an electronic banking system better known as ANSER by the 530 local financial institutions that use it. When the new system goes on-line in March, ANSER-WEB will allow customers to make balance inquiries and fund transfers from any browser-enabled device with the utmost security, thanks to 128-bit Secure Socket Layer technology. NTT Data is the first nonfinancial company in Japan with permission from the U.S. government to use the 128-bit SSL. Its plans for ANSER-WEB include adding personal finance and business accounting services and eventually insurance and securities products when deregulation allows.

Also on the financial front, QUOTE.COM, INC. of Mountain View, California has struck a deal with FINANCIAL INFORMATION SUPPORT CO., LTD. to exchange investment information products. Once has localized its QChart and LIVE!Charts graphical analysis software packages and linked them to a direct stock-price feed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, FISCO is authorized to offer them to Japan's financial community as LiveCharts Professional. In return, Tokyo-based FISCO will provide English versions of its analyses of Japanese companies to's customers.

Just as it is revolutionizing the music business, the Internet is having an impact on book publishing. ELECTRIC PRESS, INC. has partnered with FUJI XEROX CO., LTD. to bring on-demand printing of books to the Japanese market. Reston, Virginia-based Electric Press has localized its Publiotech package, which lets customers browse books page by page, assemble custom publications from several sources and pay only for what they print. Fuji Xerox will integrate Publiotech-J into its BookPark on-line system, which offers authors and publishers such on-line services as format preparation, book design and content consulting. Keeping books on-line and offering print- on-demand services mean that books always are "in stock" for customers, with minimal overhead for authors and publishers.

WORLD GAMING SERVICES INC., a wholly owned unit of Wilmington, Delaware- based STARNET COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL INC., has opened an Internet gaming site in Japan aptly named Pachinko Casino. At the moment, visitors only can play blackjack, video poker and slot machines in English, but the company is developing Java-based pachinko, live horse racing and a sportsbook in Japanese. Gamblers can make wagers via several payment methods, including credit cards. With an estimated 30 million enthusiasts dropping $180 billion a year into pachinko machines, the market looks promising.

Personalized service is often cited as one reason why Japanese consumers are leery of shopping by mail order or, more recently, on-line. NET PERCEPTIONS, INC. thinks that it has a way to overcome this barrier: Recommendation Engine v4.0 for on-line retailers. Available locally from TOYO INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD., the Minneapolis company's program interacts with Web site visitors on a one-to-one real-time basis, learning about their wants, needs and interests. Armed with this personal profile, the software then sifts through its product data base, presenting customers
with only those items that might interest them.

INKTOMI CORP. has added a second distribution channel for its Traffic Server network-caching software. TRANS COSMOS INC. joins ITOCHU TECHNO- SCIENCE CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 21) as a value-added reseller of the San Mateo, California firm's network performance enhancer. It will target managers of large corporate networks and Internet service providers.

The same customers are the targets for SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s new, industrial-strength e-mail server software. Sun Internet Mail Server 3.5 builds on the strengths of the Unix operating system -- stability and scalability -- to offer both high performance and high reliability for prices ranging from $2,300 to $5,400.

To improve the appeal of its newest home video game machine, SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD. has decided to license VERISIGN, INC.'s encryption know- how to enable it to conduct Internet e-mail and on-line shopping. Sega will embed the Mountain View, California firm's Root Key technology in its 128-bit Dreamcast game machine, which will allow it to use the Internet-standard SSL as well as VeriSign's popular Secure Server ID to safeguard Internet communications.

ENCOMMERCE, INC. is offering a localized version of its secure Web access solution. Besides authenticating user access with single sign-on ease and allowing "portals" to be individualized according to an user's security privileges, getAccess 3.0J protects intranet and extranet content from hackers. Administration modules also can be plugged in to define, monitor, enforce and audit information security policies while delegating many controls back down to departmental workers. .....Separately, VERISIGN, INC. and ENCOMMERCE, INC. have agreed to bundle two of their products to improve marketing opportunities. Santa Clara, California-based enCommerce is working with VeriSign's subsidiary to jointly market and support getAccess 3.0J and the VeriSign OnSite 4.0 public key infrastructure comprehensive Internet security system. The combination gives Japanese firms a one-stop option.

An alternative PKI package now is available through a joint venture formed by ENTRUST TECHNOLOGIES INC. and a group of 16 major Japanese corporations led by SECOM CO., LTD. and including BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD., NTT DATA CORP., ORIX CORP. and SONY CORP. The Richardson, Texas company had tapped Secom, a big security services provider, as its exclusive distributor when it moved into the Japanese market last summer (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 20). The new company will use such systems integrators as NTT Data, NIPPON STEEL CORP. and SECOM INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. to sell Entrust Technologies' PKI solutions. For now, ENTRUST JAPAN CO., LTD. is charging $25,600 for its package and $170 for each individual authenicated, but those charges are expected to drop over time. The joint venture is projecting revenues of $8.5 million-plus in FY 1999 and 10 times that amount in FY 2001. Entrust Technologies' PKI system also will be the core of a certification authority service offered by Secom's newest affiliate, SECOM CYBERSPACE SECURITY CO., LTD.

As part of a Simple Network Management Protocol infrastructure, Java- based software "agents" can be used for a variety of Internet-related tasks. These include helping applications interface with the Web, allowing servers to pursue multiple tasks simultaneously and protecting devices by serving as proxies. Edison, New Jersey-based ADVENTNET, INC. (formerly Advent Network Management, Inc.) is offering a new tool to simplify the creation of Java SNMP agents, AdventNet Agent Builder 2.0J. The localized software is available through NK-EXA CORP.

The Tokyo subsidiary of embedded operating systems specialist INTEGRATED SYSTEMS, INC. has assembled a package of four tools to expand the application of Java in Japan's embedded software market. Its Fast-J compiler runs Java programs more quickly than relying on a Java Virtual Machine interpreter, while the Sunnyvale, California company's pERC is a Java-based execution environment that enhances the language's suitability for embedded uses. Also among the tools is Chi (X), HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s Java work- alike for network environments. NSI COM's Software Co-Processor for Java rounds out the package by combining Java's multithread processing with ISI's pSOS embedded operating system's real-time multitasking capabilities. ISI sees great demand in Japan for intelligent appliances that network easily and seamlessly.

To keep up with increasingly sophisticated digital camera hardware, FLASHPOINT TECHNOLOGY, INC. is offering its operating system and development environment designed specifically for digital imaging. The San Jose, California firm's Digita platform includes Digita Tools for manufacturers of digital imaging devices, the Digita Operating Environment, which allows novice and professional users alike to control every aspect of digital imaging, the Digita Desktop, which links Digita-enabled imaging devices with PCs, and Digita Script for automating digital imaging tasks. FlashPoint will launch a local operation sometime in early 1999 and has begun courting Japanese digital camera makers.

Pursuing a slightly broader market, WIND RIVER SYSTEMS, INC. is promoting its VxWorks real-time operating system and Tornado development environment as the foundation for creating "smart" digital imaging devices. MINOLTA CO., LTD. , for one, will use the Alameda, California firm's software to develop a family of intelligent digital cameras, digital copiers and digital laser printers that can work together to handle imaging tasks from picture- taking to reproduction.

Because only about 25 percent of Japanese households own a PC, providing homes with access to the Internet via TV adapters is a hot market. NETWORK COMPUTER, INC. has licensed its TV Navigator client software and NCI Connect ISP Suite to NEC CORP. for just such a purpose. NEC plans to create set-top boxes that deliver e-mail, news, home banking and electronic commerce as well as Web browsing. However, it will add a twist to this standard offering. Customers will be given smart cards that deliver Internet content and services linked to a particular affinity group or company. Businesses could create smart cards that give customers access to their accounts and service options or that give company employees access to the corporate intranet/extranet. At the same time, affinity groups, such as clubs and community organizations, could have NEC tailor smart cards to deliver content of specific interest to their members. Redwood Shores, California-based NCI previously licensed its information appliance software platform to DDI CORP., Japan's second-largest communications carrier, ISP DREAM TRAIN INTERNET CORP., which is a subsidiary of MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., MARUBENI CORP. affiliate INTERACTIVE CABLE AND COMMUNICATIONS CORP. and CROSSBEAM NETWORKS CORP., a SUMITOMO CORP. company

IBM JAPAN LTD. has decided to build its set-top box Internet access device around a variant of MICROWARE SYSTEMS CORP.'s OS-9 real-time operating system. IBM Japan is putting the Des Moines, Iowa firm's DAVID (short for digital audio/video interactive decoder) technology in two set-top units, one for digital satellite broadcast systems and the other for digital cable systems. DAVID's modular architecture and ability to connect easily to different types of broadband networks won MSC the contract. IBM Japan is offering its set-top boxes on an OEM basis to companies overseas as well as to Japanese firms.

Continuing the drive to push Windows CE into more handheld devices, MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary released a new, fully localized version of this operating system. Windows CE 1.1J offers more features and greater network connectivity. .....With the help of automation software maker WONDERWARE CORP. of Irvine, California and industrial computerized control maker CONTEC CORP. of Osaka, MICROSOFT CORP. also has rolled out a version of Windows CE for embedding in industrial controllers and applications. Contec will embed Wonderware's InControl Runtime Engine in its new line of Windows CE-based industrial controller hardware platforms. The three also are working on Windows CE-based software for flat panel displays. The controller products are scheduled for release this spring, while the Windows CE visualization product is planned for introduction in early 2000.

MAGIC SOFTWARE ENTERPRISES INC. has taken control of its Magic (known locally as dbMagic) rapid application and development environment system business. The Irvine, California company formed a company in which it has an 80 percent interest with WACOM CO., LTD., the exclusive distributor of dbMagic for the last 10 years. The joint venture is assuming full responsibility for sales of Magic, which is used to develop client-server and Internet solutions, and local research activities. As part of this change, Magic will pay Wacom $3 million over the next five years, with $2 million of this amount forthcoming in 1999. Wacom also could receive as much as $1.8 million based on how well the joint venture does. Sales of Magic in Japan were an estimated $9 million-plus in 1998.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based ALYDAAR SOFTWARE CORP. has linked up with the computer and technical services unit of PASONA INC. to offer Year 2000 solutions. Pasona, which will be responsible for overall project management, is assembling a large staff to market the new service. Alydaar's programmers will rely on the company's SmartCode software reengineering tool to audit and remedy Y2K hardware and software problems. .....MERCURY INTERACTIVE CORP. is going after the same market in cooperation with NTT SOFTWARE CORP. Using the Sunnyvale, California firm's QuickTest 2000 program, which already has been adapted to the Japanese market (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 22) as well as it LoadRunner program, the two will offer complete Y2K and systems integration services.

Following its acquisition of WEBLOGIC, INC. last September, BEA SYSTEMS, INC. has introduced the latest version of the WebLogic Web application server software. WebLogic supports the full set of Java APIs, including Enterprise Java Beans, to allow programmers to quickly develop, deploy and manage Web-based business software. The addition of San Jose, California- based BEA Systems' business-critical middleware know-how broadens WebLogic's interoperability and scalability. The software is available through SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD., with prices ranging from $4,000 for a basic development package to $20,000 for a development/server/management suite.

The Extensible Markup Language, shortened to XML, has gained acceptance as the next lingua franca for business-oriented Internet applications. OBJECT DESIGN, INC.'s eXcelon application/data server is an early example of this new class of software. The Burlington, Massachusetts company claims for it full compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium's standards for the highly versatile language. eXcelon automatically stores, caches and delivers XML data to middleware, with a guarantee that the information will be up-to- date and consistent at all times. Object Design's subsidiary has added three firms to market and support eXcelon: CSK CORP., HITACHI SOFTWARE ENGINEERING CO., LTD. and NIPPON SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT CO., LTD.

Another area where XML is expected to become commonplace is business-to- business electronic commerce, also known as electronic data interchange. Fairfax, Virginia-based WEBMETHODS, INC. has rolled out a family of XML- based EDI products under the B2B brand. webMethods B2B 2.0 includes an integration server and a developer module to provide secure, scalable, high- performance and high-availability EDI solutions for critical business interactions. webMethods plans to boost B2B's stability by integrating OBJECT DESIGN, INC.'s ObjectStore object-oriented data base software. In Japan, webMethods is working with TOSHIBA ADVANCED SYSTEMS CORP. to develop and support XML-based EDI.

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has introduced software designed to handle the heavy demands of multiple-server, enterprise network computing. MC/ServiceGuard, which starts at $5,900, is a complete suite for clusters of up to eight nodes designed to deliver high availability, configuration flexibility, work-load balancing and data integrity. Two of MC/ServiceGuard's modules are available separately. The $2,300 Event Monitoring Service automatically detects and responds to failures in system processors and memory, LAN media and adapters, system processes and application processes, while the $3,500 Process Resource Manager is a cluster work-load management tool. Complementing MC/ServiceGuard is HP Japan's ClusterView enterprise cluster monitoring and control package, which offers advanced event notification, problem management and troubleshooting tools with a visual, map-based interface. It costs $3,900.

Leveraging the popularity of SAP INC.'s R/3 enterprise resource planning software, COMPUTER ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, INC. has rolled out a version of its Unicenter TNG enterprise network computing integrator that is both closely tied to the ERP package and supports double-byte languages like Japanese. The localized Unicenter TNG SAP R/3 Option provides end-to-end management of multiple R/3 installations across diverse platforms and distributed environments from a single console. As Japanese firms begin to use R/3 for a broader range of operations, CA expects demand for its integrated management system to grow as well.

In a related move, COMPUTER ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, INC. has outlined a schedule running from January 1999 through July 1999 for the release of double-byte versions of virtually the entire Unicenter TNG 2.2 family. This demonstration of the Islandia, New York software developer's commitment to corporate Japan includes options for storage network management, automated delivery of software, Lotus Notes/Domino groupware, computer virus protection, frame-relay management, remote control of clients, DECnet environments and "single sign-on" security systems.

To allow administrators to move transparently between network operation/management and network device administration, 3COM CORP. and FUJITSU, LTD. have integrated the former's Transcend Enterprise Manager for Windows and the latter's SystemWalker/CentricMGR. The bundle automatically registers multiple 3Com devices within the SystemWalker environment as well as monitors and reports on network traffic. Fujitsu was to begin shipping the bundle in January. The two companies expect to sell 500 copies of the $6,400 package in Japan over the next three years. The package also will be available outside Japan through Fujitsu's network of companies.

Now fully localized, OpenView IT/Operations 5.0 is available for $53,800 from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The network management tool gives administrators the ability to deliver differing levels of network services to different users, ensuring that business-critical functions always have adequate resources. Version 5.0 also provides greater scalability and more dynamic configuration capabilities, both aimed at meeting the needs of very large and complex enterprise computing networks.

INTEL CORP.'s subsidiary is offering a new iteration of its LANDesk client management software. Version 6.2 , which costs $6,800, lets administrators take control of all types of client PCs from a single point, regardless of whether the connection is a LAN, a WAN (wide area network) or the Internet. Not only does this allow administrators to deliver uniform desktop computing environments and software upgrades, but it permits remote troubleshooting of client problems and ensures software licensing compliance.

A competing product, Enterprise Desktop Manager, is available from a new entrant in this market segment: NOVADIGM, INC. With the help of Tokyo- based distributor BROAD CORP., the Emeryville, California company's client management solution is being installed by DAI-ICHI KANGYO BANK, LTD., drugmaker EISAI CO., LTD., credit-card issuer JCB CO., LTD., MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., trader NISSHO IWAI CORP., consumer finance provider PROMISE CO., LTD., an affiliate of SONY CORP. and TONEN CORP. BROAD executives cite the software's ability to provide immediate cost savings through highly reliable, automatic software distribution and desktop environment management as the reason for the wide appeal of Novadigm's Enterprise Desktop Manager.

CHECK POINT SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGIES, LTD. of Redwood City, California has updated its network firewall and virtual private network packages. To increase their versatility and utility, FireWall-1 4.0 and VPN-1 Gateway 4.0 support a large number of security systems. These include public key infrastructures, Internet Key Exchange, 168-bit Triple DES encryption, 56- bit and 40-bit DES, 128-bit and 40-bit CAST, 48-bit FWZ-1 and 40-bit RC4. Besides working with routers and switches from several makers, the updated packages offer an enhanced graphical-user interface and LDAP support. They also are backward-compatible with earlier versions. Check Point's subsidiary has started pricing of the two products at $4,200.

To keep up with an expanding array of firewalls and VPNs, WEBTRENDS CORP. is offering its self-named package. WebTrends for Firewalls and VPNs can monitor, manage and report on the activity and the performance of these critical security and communications infrastructures. Version 1.1 of the Portland, Oregon company's product, available through ASGENT INC. starting at $2,500, adds a syslog server for real-time collection of data as well as creation and management of log files. Since WebTrends for Firewalls and VPNs 1.1 works with the security software of more than a dozen makers, Tokyo-based Asgent expects sales of 1,500 units a year.

Big enterprise storage solution provider EMC CORP. has revamped its flagship Symmetrix Remote Data Facility mirroring system and related utilities, offering enhanced performance and data protection. The basic Symmetrix RDF package, which costs $76,900 and up, automatically maintains a mirror image of the master system, providing rollover in the event of a master system failure and/or allowing testing to be done on the mirror system without compromising or hindering the master. EMC TimeFinder creates copies of master files called Business Continuance Volumes at prices beginning at $92,300. These BCVs are independently addressable and can be used either as a real-time backup or as an active mirror system, controlling tasks in parallel with the master system. Finally, the $179,500-and-up EMC Data Manager is a high-speed file manager that automatically can copy as much as 10 terabytes of data at 70 GB per hour from hundreds of networked servers.

NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC.'s subsidiary continues to beef up its enterprise- strength network tools with new releases in its Sniffer family of traffic monitoring and analysis packages. Fully localized editions of Sniffer Pro for Windows ($17,800) and for DOS ($23,800) are available from TOYO TECHNICA CO., LTD. Network Associates and its Tokyo-based partner will continue working together to localize all of the Santa Clara, California firm's products.

A new groupware package from the local arm of UNISYS CORP. uses an Internet browser interface to make it more accessible to users. Ex-Web works on top of MICROSOFT CORP.'s Exchange Server. It is priced at $8,600 per server. Unisys expects sales of Ex-Web software and support services to hit $8.5 million over the next two years.

Hoping to spur use of INTERBASE SOFTWARE CORP.'s InterBase relational data base software (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 23), sales agent RIOS CORP. has launched an after-sales support service for InterBase developers using Linux and FreeBSD -- two open-source operating systems. The Scotts Valley, California firm recently posted versions of InterBase RDB tailored to these two operating systems for free downloading from the Internet. Rios hopes this availability will lead to $427,400 in support service contracts with 100 companies by the end of March 2000.

IBM JAPAN LTD. and SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary have opened a data base testing facility in the expectation that it will lead to increased sales for both companies. The center, located in the Tokyo offices of Sun, will test customer implementations of INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. data base software running on Sun servers. The two companies hope that the new facility will encourage novel uses of the IBM data base/Sun server combination.

Westboro, Massachusetts-based ARDENT SOFTWARE, INC. is pushing into the market for data mart and data warehouse development tools. It has opened a subsidiary in Tokyo and is signing up additional marketing partners. The new unit is working with longtime distributor JAPAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD. to introduce DataStage 3.5, its DM and DWH flagship, as well as to boost sales of the O2 object-oriented data base management tool and the UniVerse and UniData extended relational data bases for business. The subsidiary also has signed NEC CORP. and JGC INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. to market and integrate DataStage. Ardent's subsidiary is projecting 1999 sales at $2.6 million or so. Its November 1998 acquisition of data warehouse pioneer PRISM SOLUTIONS, INC. of Sunnyvale, California has given Ardent a boost in the DWH business.

SOUTHERN COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INC., a wholly owned Birmingham, Alabama unit of SCAN-OPTICS, INC., has released an image data capture software solution suite aimed at easing data entry and collection. VistaCapture handles form-based data input with full support for Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji character sets as well as mixed English/Japanese forms. Available from TOYO OFFICEMATION, INC., Scan-Optics' longtime distributor, the basic VistaCapture bundle goes for $23,300. A $17,100 add-on enhances VistaCapture's flexibility by providing full data-editing capabilities. Toyo Officemation expects to license 300 VistaCapture seats a year.

To help firms maintain ISO 9000 standards, UNISYS CORP.'s local unit now offers the ISOLaw document management package. The software ensures that the requisite information is inputted and maintained in order to meet the international standard for business operations. Unisys hopes to sell 200 packages over two years at $8,600 per server.

For enterprises unifying their data systems on ORACLE CORP.'s many products, VERITAS SOFTWARE CORP. has developed an integrated suite of its management and support tools. VERITAS Database Edition 2.0 for Oracle provides tools to optimize performance while maintaining ease of use, high system availability and data integrity and security. Priced from $8,000, versions also are available for SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Solaris and HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s HP-UX operating systems from the Mountain View, California firm's subsidiary.

MAPINFO CORP. has released a localized version of its latest geographic information system. MapInfo Professional 5.0J sports several new features, including continuous thematic shading for point data sets, enhanced cartographic legends, live access to data sources via the Open DataBase Connectivity standard, integration with SEAGATE SOFTWARE, INC.'s Crystal Reports report generator, and a new universal translator for mixed GIS environments. The new package starts at $4,000 or at $1,100 for an upgrade. The distributor of Troy, New York-based MapInfo's products is MITSUI ZOSEN SYSTEMS RESEARCH, INC., an affiliate of MITSUI ENGINEERING & SHIPBUILDING CO., LTD.

A data base and on-line analytical processing system designed to meet the special requirements involved in obtaining government approval for the sale of pharmaceutical products is available from the subsidiary of Cary, North Carolina-headquartered SAS INSTITUTE INC. SAS/PH-Clinical v4.0 gives even laymen easy access to the huge amounts of data generated in preclinical testing of new drug compounds. The package starts at $4,300 and increases depending on the scale of the installation.

Beginning in February, ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary will offer a low-cost enterprise resource planning solution for midsized companies. FastForward Financials includes only the accounts receivable/payable modules of Oracle Applications r11 and takes an average of just three months to install rather than the six months usually needed for Oracle Applications. FastForward will be available for Windows NT users at $299,100 and for Unix customers at $316,200. .....Meanwhile, ORACLE CORP.'s local operation and HITACHI, LTD. joined together to develop and market an operations management package for Oracle ERP systems. JPI/Application Manager for Oracle Applications eases the many integration and administration tasks inherent in complex ERP systems.

IBM JAPAN LTD. has joined forces with NTT DATA CORP. and NIPPON STEEL INFORMATION & COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS INC. to boost ERP-related sales. The three are jointly promoting NTT Data's ERP software, Scaw v3.2, loaded on IBM Japan RS/6000 servers, installed, integrated and supported by Nippon Steel Information. Not only is the package deal expected to cut installation time to two or three months from the former five to six months, but it should yield other savings in time and money as well. The trio also plans to offer bundles with servers from HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. and SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. in the near future.

ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary and NTT DATA CORP. has formed an alliance to develop, market, install and support combined ERP and data warehouse solutions for financial institutions. Based on Oracle Applications, the unified solution will be pitched as a cost-saving, efficiency-improving tool for financial institutions impacted by the ongoing Big Bang deregulation. The partners will develop unique interfaces and workflow patterns for customers as well as provide joint after-sales support.

Chicago's SSA, INC. has lined up HITACHI INFORMATION SYSTEMS, LTD. to market its ERP suite, BPCS Client/Server. The suite includes configurable enterprise financial modules, supply chain management applications, multimode manufacturing software and electronic data interchange functions. Based on SSA's proven object technology, BPCS runs on HEWLETT- PACKARD CO. 9000, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. AS/400 and Windows NT servers.

A new, localized offering from COCREATE SOFTWARE INC.'s subsidiary combines workflow management and product data management functions to enhance innovation in the product development process. By integrating its WorkManager package with SAP INC.'s R/3 system, the Fort Collins, Colorado unit of HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. provides secure, comprehensive product data functions with the flexibility to match computer resources to any product development process.

In the latest in a long string of Japan wins, STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS RESEARCH CORP. has won a PDM contract from SEIKO EPSON CORP. and its systems integrator, JAPAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE SYSTEM SOLUTION LTD. JRI is installing a PDM solution based on SDRC's Metaphase Enterprise package to manage the multitude of parts used in designing and manufacturing Seiko Epson's line of printers and point-of-sale equipment. The first phase of the project was completed last September when JRI replaced Seiko Epson's mainframe with a MetaPhase Enterprise client-server system handling parts data and document distribution. Phase II will bring production management, quality control and IS functions within the Metaphase Enterprise envelope.

Taking the next logical step in its drive to fully computerize its product development cycle, TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. selected ENGINEERING ANIMATION, INC.'s PDM software to produce a visual data base for both parts and engineering drawings. Spokesmen for the automotive maker said that the company selected the Ames, Iowa firm's PDM solution both for its ability to handle visual data and its ease of use and platform independence.

Applying the concepts of PDM to the retail market is the forte of a new package from Minneapolis-based RETEK INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. The Retek Merchandising System v7.0 allows retailers to analyze their business at any number of levels, including individual stores and single SKU numbers, as well as enables them to make better marketing and purchasing decisions. The subsidiary of HNC SOFTWARE INC. picked ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. as its distributor. It already has won a contract from NIKE INC.'s local retail operation for the Retek Merchandising System.

TRADE'EX ELECTRONIC COMMERCE SYSTEMS, INC. has completed installation of its electronic data interchange/supply chain management solution for NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. TRADE'ex Procurement for the Enterprise currently connects 10 major communications equipment suppliers with NTT and its business units, creating a virtual marketplace for buying hardware at the best price. NTT officials say that the Tampa, Florida firm's package, which was customized to NTT business practices and localized, "provides a platform for centralizing the management of product catalog, supplier and sourcing information, while at the same time, decentralizing the execution [of purchasing decisions] to users' desktops." The communications giant purchased a total of 10,700 user licenses for TRADE'ex Procurement, which now is deployed at 7,000 desktops.

The subsidiary of J.D. EDWARDS & CO. has teamed up with time-recorder maker AMANO CORP. on accounting software for businesses. In the first step of their alliance, Amano has released TimePro-COM for OneWorld, a $5,100 package that allows data to be exchanged between the two firms' accounting packages. The partners plan future joint development and integration efforts in this field.

Lowell, Massachusetts-based GEOTEL COMMUNICATIONS CORP. has signed KAWASAKI STEEL SYSTEMS R&D CORP. to distribute its customer-interaction software in Japan as well as in Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. KSD, a leading call-center systems integrator, will handle GeoTel's flagship Intelligent CallRouter for networked centers, its Site ICR for single-site centers and its full line of computer-telephony integration products, providing sales, installation and support. The two also will localize GeoTel's products, with Japanese versions due in March. KSD calculates that it can sell 60 copies of the $119,700 Intelligent CallRouter in Japan in 1999.

Riding the popularity of APPLE COMPUTER, INC.'s iMac, SYMANTEC CORP.'s subsidiary released a version of the Norton Antivirus for Macintosh utility designed specifically for this machine. NAM 5.0.3, which costs $110, is updated to handle the iMac's hardware as well as Apple's Mac OS 8.5 operating system. .....Separately, the local operation of SYMANTEC CORP. had a late January release date for a new version of its popular faxing utility for Windows-based machines. WinFax Pro 9.0 offers more flexible faxing options, including rearranging and/or removing pages from a document, and allows for group faxing via a LAN and telephone gateway. Priced at $125, the Symantec subsidiary expects sales to hit 50,000 copies a year.

A new version of its high-end computer-aided engineering package is available from MACNEIL-SCHWENDLER CORP.'s subsidiary. MSC/PATRAN v8 can rapidly mesh the surfaces of complex solid parts while supporting UNIGRAPHICS SOLUTIONS INC. files and offering direct access to CATIA geometry data and other CAD program formats. The CAE system starts at $36,800 for an English-only version. The Los Angeles firm expects to have a Japanese version ready sometime in 1999.

A localized version of UNIGRAPHICS SOLUTIONS INC.'s core 3D modeling product, Solid Edge, has been released by the Maryland Heights, Missouri firm's subsidiary. Version 6 of the $9,200 CAD package includes several bonus programs, such as Virtual Studio, aimed at home and small office users.

For the professional architect, BENTLEY SYSTEMS, INC. is offering through its subsidiary various combinations of its Microstation TriForma 3D rendering and documentation package. The Exton, Pennsylvania company's software uses the Single Build Model approach, which focuses on creating a 3D model of the entire design by centralizing all data and project details in a single data base. Microstation Triforma is available in Japanese as a stand-alone product for $8,100 or as a suite with several utilities for $10,300.

Seattle's ROBERT MCNEEL & ASSOCIATES tapped APPLICRAFT CO., LTD. to market and support its Rhinoceros 3D modeling software. By applying NURBS (nonuniform rational B-splines) algorithms, the $1,700 package delivers high- end performance while running on Windows 95/NT PCs. Tokyo-based AppliCraft, which already resells computer graphics software from Grass Valley, California-based HOT DOOR, INC., hopes to sell 3,000 Rhinoceros packages the first year.

TOSHIBA CORP. has chosen software from GEOWORKS CORP. to power its planned over-the-air news and information service for portable devices. The Alameda, California firm's Premion Server+ local content server has a flexible architecture to integrate easily with existing information systems. It also supports a wide variety of languages (HTML, WML, XML, HDML, Compact HTML, TTML and plain text) and delivery protocols (HTTP, HDTP, WTP, SMTP and SMS). Toshiba officials said that Premion's ability to work with the company's current line of handheld information devices was a primary consideration. Interestingly, Toshiba is the first company to offer services via Premion Server+.

Buyers of the Panasonic Let's note comm/C33 notebook computer have the capability for high-quality video and audio communications over the Internet as well as through intranets, telephone lines and high-speed wiring, thanks to the SMITH MICRO SOFTWARE, INC. VideoLink software bundled with the MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. machine. The portable includes a video camera integrated into the hardware and a Japanese-language version of the Aliso Viejo, California company's videoconferencing software. MARUBUN CORP., Smith Micro's distributor, arranged the deal.

Voice-recognition software from ADVANCED RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGIES INC. of Simi Valley, California will be distributed by TAKACHIHO KOHEKI CO., LTD. smARTspeak has an adaptive algorithm that filters out background noise, making it ideal for use in noisy environments, such as airports. It also can be trained to recognize any user's voice without the need for customization or a special speech-recognition interface.

Users soon will be able to secure their data with just one word with voice- driven verification software from T-NETIX, INC. of Englewood, Colorado. A NIS-SHO IWAI CORP. affiliate will localize, integrate, distribute and support SpeakEZ Voice Print technology for a wide range of applications. The first product using the technology is the VoiceEntry 2.1 program for controlling access to PCs. NISSHO IWAI INFOCOM SYSTEMS CO., LTD. already ordered 1,500 copies of this localized product. It has targeted financial firms offering telephone-based customer services for the next application of SpeakEZ, a voice-print verification system for the Internet, charging an annual management fee of about $8.50 per user with a goal of 200,000 users.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


A $110 million project is underway to construct a terrestrial fiber-optic network linking Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya as well as connecting those major metropolitan areas with the local cable stations of Pacific Crossing-1, the first privately owned and operated underseas cable network across the Pacific. GLOBAL CROSSING LTD., the prime mover behind PC-1, and MARUBENI CORP., one of two Japanese backers of the $1.2 billion transpacific fiber- optic cable (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 7), are in charge of building the roughly 745-mile terrestrial network. For this purpose, they formed GLOBAL ACCESS LTD., in which Global Crossing has a 49 percent interest. The latest in fiber-optic transmission technology will be incorporated in the network, which will be composed of multiple network rings to provide diverse routing options and redundancies among all the points of presence. Network operation is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2000.

JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. will begin field trials in April 1999 of Internet Protocol-based networking solutions from CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. as part of the development of the long-distance carrier's next-generation network infrastructure called PRISM, short for Progressive and Revolutionary Integration on Service Media. Japan Telecom's immediate goal for PRISM is to cut the cost of delivering existing services while providing a platform for next-generation data, voice and video services. In time, PRISM could replace the carrier's current voice switches, ushering in a single, integrated multimedia network. PRISM is being developed as an IP+ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) "new-world" network infrastructure. Initially, it will integrate with Japan Telecom's data networks, starting with its IP/Internet Open Data Network, frame-relay and ATM services. Networking equipment from Cisco runs all of these offerings.

The third generation of mobile communications services based on the capacity-boosting, quality-enhancing wide-CDMA (code-division multiple access) standard could become available in Japan from a second source as soon as 2001. That at least is the current thinking of cellular phone network operator AIRTOUCH COMMUNICATIONS INC., JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. and NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. They have formed IMT-2000 PLANNING CO., LTD. to study the feasibility of deploying a W-CDMA network (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 21). San Francisco's AirTouch Communications has a 26 percent stake in the new company versus shares of 40 percent and 34 percent for Japan Telecom and Nissan, respectively. If the partners decide to go ahead with the project, which could require more than $5 billion to build the infrastructure, they will bring in other investors. NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS, INC. plans to be the first cellular operator in the world to commercially deploy a W-CDMA system (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 25).

The ability of the MainStreetXpress 36100 Access Concentrator to give the SOHO (small office/home office) market and remote users access to the Internet or to intranets/extranets from a single, cost-effective ($41,000 and up) platform has convinced the subsidiary of manufacturer NEWBRIDGE NETWORKS CORP. that it can sell 100 of these systems to service providers. MainStreetXpress 36100 acts as the network collection point for digital (integrated services digital network) and analog modem calls over telephone lines. These calls then are routed over a frame-relay or an ATM network. Because the system is both scalable and flexible, Newbridge Networks says that service providers can offer a variety of services to thousands of remote users.

Capacity-constrained enterprises and ISPs have a new option in FOUNDRY NETWORKS, INC.'s BigIron 8000 switching router. The Sunnyvale, California company's product provides second-generation, hardware-based Layer 2/3/4 switching and multiprotocol routing on a single, chassis-based platform. With its ability to handle as many as 64 Gigabit Ethernet ports and move as many as 100 million packets of information per second, Foundry Networks claims that BigIron 8000 can deliver at least 100 times the performance of traditional routers at less than 10 percent of the cost. Distributor MITSUI & CO., LTD. has priced the switching router around $213,700. It also has introduced another Foundry Networks product, the $68,400-or-so FastIron II wiring closet switch. It provides 72 autosensing, autonegotiating 10/100-megabit-per-second ports and scales from two to eight Gigabit Ethernet ports. With a switching capacity of 128 gigabits per second, FastIron II has a throughput of 23 million packets per second.

With other companies crowding into the market for switching routers, CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC., one of the first manufacturers to introduce this technology, hopes to stay a step ahead of the competition by bringing WAN interface support to its SmartSwitch Router 2000, 8000 and 8600 family (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 27). The SSR WAN modules, says Rochester, New Hampshire-based Cabletron, extend Layer 4 application-level control, quality of service and security features across the enterprise, delivering private networks at lower cost, greater bandwidth utilization and better application performance. The new products include two- and four-port serial interfaces operating at port speeds of up to 8 Mbps and a two-port high-speed serial interface operating at port speeds as fast as 52 Mbps.

The mate to the Summit48 desktop switch from EXTREME NETWORKS, INC. is on the market through the Cupertino, California manufacturer's subsidiary (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 26). The Summit24 provides 24 switched 10/100-Mbps autosensing ports and a Gigabit Ethernet port. It has an 8.5-Gbps nonblocking switch fabric and a forwarding rate of 5.1 million packets per second. A Summit24 with Layer 2 switching costs $11,500. Adding Layer 3 switching capabilities raises the price to $19,700. The products making up the extensive Summit family are distributed directly by SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. and TOKYO ELECTRON LTD.

These products will be going up against two new wiring closet members of the Catalyst family from world market leader CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. The modular Catalyst 4003 can support up to 36 Gigabit Ethernet ports or as many as 96 10/100-Mbps ports through a 24-Gbps nonblocking switching fabric, while the fixed-configuration Catalyst 2948G offers 48 10/100 ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports for uplinks. Both provide wire-speed switching on all ports. The Catalyst 4003 has a switching capacity of 18 million packets per second; the comparable figure for the Catalyst 2948G is more than 10 million.

CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary also expanded its lineup of routers. It released two products in the new Cisco 800 series that connect small offices and telecommuters whose companies have Ethernet LANs to the Internet or the corporate network using an ISDN network. Incorporating end- to-end security and data privacy features, both models come with an Ethernet port. At the same time, Cisco's local operation introduced the modular Cisco 1720 virtual private network access router for small and midsized businesses and branch offices of larger companies. The product features two WAN interface card slots, an autosensing 10/100 port and an auxiliary port as well as the security features required for VPNs.

Through its subsidiary, Irvine, California-based LINKSYS has jumped into the market for 10/100-Mbps autosensing hubs. Its marketing pitch for the EtherFast five-port 10/100 Autosensing Hub is much like that of other suppliers since the product allows workgroups to upgrade to Fast Ethernet as their demands require rather than all at once. One unusual feature of the Linksys product, though, is that when all five ports on the hub are running at 100 Mbps, the uplink port is capable of sending data distances of 328 feet at the same 100 Mbps.

Companies looking for a segment switch and workgroups are the target markets for the Intel Express 520T Switch. The scalable 12-port Fast Ethernet switch, which INTEL CORP.'s subsidiary priced at $3,800, provides dedicated 10/100-Mbps throughput for each port.

At the same time that INTEL CORP.'s local unit was strengthening its product lineup, it was revamping its marketing strategy to better position itself for the stiff competition in Japan's networking equipment market. Instead of using multiple distributors to market its LAN switches and hubs, Intel decided to make SHOWA ELECTRIC WIRE & CABLE CO., LTD. its sole primary distributor. Other marketers with which the company dealt now will buy equipment from Showa Electric. Given its new responsibilities, the Tokyo company formed a 10-person team to provide market development and technical support to secondary distributors. It also opened a technical center to do product assessments and maintenance work on Intel networking equipment.

For between $75 and $215 -- the cost of some other companies' 10-Mbps Ethernet adapters -- small business owners can buy a NETGEAR adapter from BAY NETWORKS, INC.'s subsidiary and also gain support for 100-Mbps Fast Ethernet speed and bandwidth. One of the two products released is the autosensing 10/100-Mbps NETGEAR FA310TX Fast Ethernet PCI Adapter for computers with a peripheral component interconnect interface.

ASCEND COMMUNICATIONS, INC.'s marketing unit has released the Series56 Digital Modem module. Designed for the central-site MAX and MAX TNT WAN access switches that the company sells to corporations, ISPs and other network service providers, the module allows people using V.90-compliant or V.34-compatible modems to download data from the corporate intranet or the Internet at speeds of up to 56 kilobits per second.

The Andover, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Wireless Solutions division of RAYTHEON CO. is supplying its Raylink Wireless LAN on an OEM basis to INTERNET PRO CORP. Designed for portable computer users whose jobs require them to move around, the system offers connectivity to a wired Ethernet LAN within 500 feet at a data rate of up to 2 Mbps. Raylink consists of two parts: the Raylink PC Card, a wireless LAN adapter (PCMCIA Type II-E) that Tokyo-based Internet Pro is selling as the CUTE10, and the Raylink Access Point, a wireless LAN-to-Ethernet bridge that provides direct access to the wired Ethernet LAN infrastructure.

Market newcomer E-COMMS INC., a Gigs Harbor, Washington manufacturer of network management hardware, selected RIKEI CORP. as its exclusive sales and technical support representative in Japan and elsewhere in the Asian Pacific. E-COMMS's flagship product is the E-COMMANDER network controller, a hardware/software system that provides real-time monitoring and control of a wide variety of remote LAN and WAN hardware devices from a central location. Add-on modules are available that allow network managers to expand the capabilities of the E-COMMANDER as well as the number of LAN and/or WAN devices managed.

New for the corporate intranet from CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary is a family of systems that provide a variety of network video services, including video on demand, live video and scheduled video broadcasting. Featuring a rack-mounted, modular design, the IP/TV 3400 Series Servers are made up of three different products, each of which delivers a specific set of video functions. The IP/TV 3410 Control Server is the core of the system. It simplifies content, bandwidth and server management for program and network managers. It also manages both locally and remotely clusters of IP/TV 3420 Broadcast Servers, which are designed for multicasting live and prerecorded programs, and IP/TV 3430 Archive Servers, which are used mainly for distributing VOD programs. Furthermore, the IP/TV 3410 communicates program information directly to client desktops.

A fully localized version of HAUPPAUGE COMPUTER WORKS, INC.'s WinTV PCI board is available through Tokyo-based NET JAPAN CO., LTD. The $250 product provides live TV from either a cable TV system or a TV antenna in a resizable window on a PC screen. In the six weeks through the end of January, Net Japan expected to sell more than 1,000 of the Haupaugge, New York company's PCI boards.

The ambitious project by Washington, D.C.-based WORLDSPACE CORP. to provide direct satellite delivery of digital-quality radio programming to people in developing countries is moving closer to reality. The company's first satellite is in orbit, ready to start service in 1999 to countries in Africa and the Middle East, and four Japanese consumer electronics companies have unveiled digital satellite radio receivers designed to carry the service. WorldSpace set the basic guidelines for the receivers, but HITACHI, LTD., MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. were free to come up with their own designs. The final phase of testing of the receivers, which involved sending signals from the satellite, was to be completed by the end of January.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


The Tokyo unit of NEW BALANCE ATHLETIC SHOE INC. is putting more emphasis on sportswear -- a business that generated sales of roughly $17.1 million in 1997, or 10 percent-plus of the Allston, Massachusetts company's Japan revenues. Current plans call for New Balance sportswear to be carried by between 300 and 360 sporting goods stores and other outlets within the next year or so. That would triple the brand's present retail coverage. To help reach this target as well as the goal of boosting New Balance clothing sales to $42.7 million a year in five years, the subsidiary gave three Japanese sporting goods wholesalers primary responsibility for marketing.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


GENERAL MOTORS CORP. has given affiliate ISUZU MOTORS LTD. greater responsibility for engineering its light-duty and medium-duty truck platforms. To help the money-losing truck manufacturer carry out its added work load, GM will spend $448.7 million to buy new Isuzu shares. That purchase will boost the stake of the world's top automotive maker in Japan's number-two truck builder to 49 percent from the 37.5 percent GM has owned since 1971. GM's closer relationship with Isuzu came as little surprise to industry analysts, although some had speculated that the American company would buy Isuzu outright or at least acquire a majority stake in it. These experts see Isuzu's expertise in engineering light trucks and medium- duty commercial vehicles as a way for GM to bolster its position over the longer term in the extremely competitive U.S. market and in developing countries, especially in Asia. GM already has recognized its affiliate's capabilities. In 1997, it gave Isuzu, which is known internationally for its diesel engine technology, lead design responsibility for the diesel engines used in GM trucks. The two also announced an Ohio joint venture last September to build a direct-injection, V-8 diesel engine for certain of GM's light-duty trucks (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 9). Moreover, GM and Isuzu already have collaborated on two trucks and are working on a third. Over the next three to five years, insiders say, the companies could be sharing a considerable number of light truck and commercial vehicle platforms. Interestingly, GM's moves to strengthen its relationship with Isuzu on trucks came within months of efforts to tap the expertise of affiliate SUZUKI MOTOR CORP. on small, affordable and rugged vehicles for developing markets (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 29).

The "main dealer" marketing strategy adopted by CHRYSLER JAPAN SALES LTD. in 1995 -- under which it wants to have at least one showroom in each of Japan's 47 prefectures devoted exclusively to CHRYSLER CORP. products -- is making progress, if slower than expected. The company now can count 27 main dealers with the signing of an agreement with a used vehicle dealer organization in Kobe to open Chrysler stores in Hyogo prefecture. The first was to be in operation in January, with a second to follow sometime in 2000. The new main dealer expects to sell 200 Jeep sport-utility vehicles, Voyager minivans and Chrysler cars a year.

The 300-plus stores operated by FORD SALES JAPAN LTD. will have two new products to sell in 1999. The first, already in showrooms, is the MAZDA MOTOR CORP.-built Laser Lidea compact car. Available as a sedan or a station wagon with five engine options and a choice of two-wheel or four- wheel drive, the Laser Lidea has a suggested retail price of between $10,600 and $16,100. Ford Sales is looking for monthly volume of 500 units. In March, the Ka minicar will arrive at dealerships. Built in Europe by FORD MOTOR CO., the right-hand-drive vehicle will only be sold with a manual transmission. The absence of an automatic transmission option, dealers say, could jeopardize achievement of Ford Sales' goal of selling 5,000 Ka minicars a year.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home


In its second tie-up of the month with HAKUTO CO., LTD., Irvine, California- headquartered NEWPORT CORP. named the Tokyo company to distribute the Elite3 Series of what it calls active isolation workstations. Equipped with digital controllers that actively cancel low-frequency floor vibrations, these $21,400 tables provide an ultrastable work surface. That characteristic makes them suitable for wafer fabrication, metrology and microscopy applications in semiconductor facilities and other precision work. Hakuto is projecting Elite3 AIW sales at $854,700 in 1999 and $2.1 million in 2000.

STEP2 CO., a Streetsboro, Ohio maker of a variety of plastic products for the home and outdoors, has given ASAHI CORP. exclusive rights to distribute its entire line of some 40 products. Kawaguchi, Saitama prefecture-based Asahi, which is in the same type of business as Step2, believes that it can sell $8.5 million worth of products a year to such retailers as home centers and children's/toy stores. A Step2 product that could be a bigger seller is the $60 Grass Hopper, a wheeled work seat for gardening that has a 6-inch- deep storage compartment under the lid. Among other Step2 products is a $340 jungle gym.

In a move that will boost its bottom line, TWENTIETH CENTURY-FOX FILM CORP.'s Tokyo subsidiary has started to distribute movies directly in Japan rather than using TOHO-TOWA CO., LTD.'s distribution channels. That will save the company the 10 percent or so normally paid to distributors. Fox, the maker of "Titanic" and several other recent hits, took in an estimated $145.3 million in distribution revenues in Japan in 1998, making it the number-one distributor.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.

Top aaaaa Subscriber Area aaaa Home