NO. 22 &emdash; June 13, 1997


Feature Article


The Internet and the World Wide Web rapidly are changing the ways American companies do business and individuals spend their leisure time. The Internet/WWW revolution now is beginning to sweep through Japan. It has an even greater potential to change traditional business practices and relationships. Foreign firms both are playing an important role in this transformation and taking full advantage of the changes being wrought. By providing relatively low-cost, instant, 24-hour-a-day access to information resources, businesses and consumers around the globe, the Internet and the World Wide Web may contribute significantly to the internationalization of Japan.

Because change in this field moves at highly accelerated "Internet time," this report can present only a snapshot of market conditions in Japan. In fact, by the time it is received via "snail mail," the details could be out of date. The trends and the factors shaping Japan's Internet market should prove more durable, however.

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Weekly Review

United States, Japan Release Interim Report On Defense Guidelines by Barbara Wanner

Representing a potentially important policy shift, the United States and Japan agreed June 7 to enhance defense cooperation in the event of an armed attack against Japan or an emergency in an area near the Asian nation as well as in peacetime. Among its groundbreaking recommendations, the Subcommittee for Defense Cooperation proposed that, should Japan be attacked, the two countries take immediate joint action to repel the assault rather than leave Tokyo to attempt to deal with the attack on its own. Perhaps most significant, the six-page report includes 40 examples of collaboration in response to military, humanitarian or other emergencies in areas "surrounding" Japan.


Yen Comes To Life In Active Currency Markets by Douglas Ostrom

Currency traders, for whom "lots of news is good news," had reason for joy in early June. An abundance of economic news, both positive and negative, out of the United States, Japan and Europe combined with the prospect of still more developments over the next few months to create unusual volatility in foreign exchange markets. The yen ended up significantly stronger in mid-June than it had been at the end of April, but to many analysts the value of the Japanese currency appeared hostage to further news.


Japan's Top Banks Report Smaller Profits But Fewer Bad Loans by Jon Choy

As a group, the 20 largest Japanese banks posted a decline in both net operating profits and pretax profits for the 12 months ended March 31, 1997. The same financial institutions also reported that the value of nonperforming assets, mainly bad loans, on their books had dropped, in some cases significantly, by the end of FY 1996 compared with a year earlier. While analysts cheered the collective reduction in the bad loan total, some remain skeptical about the veracity of the reported declines.



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