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No. 366, March 2000

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Japanese Companies in the US


A $300 million-plus expansion is underway at FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD.'s huge manufacturing complex in Greenwood, South Carolina. The project includes a second plant for color photographic film and photographic paper and Fujifilm's first U.S. factory for X-ray film for the health-care industry. The two plants are to be completed in early 2001. Additional space in Greenwood's distribution facility, already the largest that Fujifilm operates anywhere in the world, is covered as well. The latest expansion boosts Fujifilm's investment in its South Carolina production center, which opened in 1989, to more than $1.3 billion. The new capacity will create in excess of 200 jobs, increasing employment at the campus to approximately 1,500 people. The 500-acre Greenwood complex now houses six manufacturing plants, plus the recently opened Greenwood Research Laboratories and the distribution center. The current production line-up spans 35mm color film and photographic paper, QuickSnap disposable cameras, DLTtape data-storage media, VHS-format videotape for the consumer and duplication markets, and presensitized plates and film for the graphic arts market.

ASAHI OPTICAL CO., LTD., the maker of Pentex-brand photographic equipment, and HEWLETT- PACKARD CO. have teamed up to develop state-of-the-art digital camera platforms. Their initial product, scheduled for summer release, is a 2-megapixel-class CCD (charge-coupled device) camera. Asahi Optical will manufacture the codeveloped product, which each of the partners will sell under its own name. The Japanese supplier of optical products and precision instruments has not released a digital camera model since August 1997. The alliance with HP should help Asahi Optical get back into this fast-changing market. HP has been active in digital camera technical development in recent years and has come up with an imaging technology that improves the overall image quality of each picture taken by adjusting for lighting conditions.

In a deal designed to make digital imaging more accessible to consumers by eliminating the need for a digital camera or a scanner to input pictures into a PC, MICROSOFT CORP. has arranged for the U.S. subsidiary of FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD. to incorporate its Picture It! Express 2000 photo-editing software into every new Fujicolor photo CD. Thanks to this combination, people who chose to get their pictures back from Fujifilm photo processors on a CD can edit and enhance them on their PCs and then share them electronically.

The Long Beach, California subsidiary of SEIKO EPSON CORP. is offering EPSON Software Film Factory photo-management software for Macintosh users as well as for Windows-based machines. The $30 package allows photographers to import, catalog, edit and print pictures from their collections of digital images. One unusual feature of Film Factory is that, like a one-hour photo lab, it can process and print batches of photos.

ASAHI GLASS CO., LTD. has a new U.S. distribution arrangement for its Pictorico Ink Jet Media line of specialty papers for digital images. The Melville, New York subsidiary of digital camera maker OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO., LTD. gained exclusive rights to market certain newly cobranded Pictorico media to traditional retail outlets. It also will distribute other Pictorico specialty papers to these channels. AGA CHEMICALS, INC., which previously handled all Pictorico distribution in the United States, will market the media on-line.

An exchange rate of ¥109=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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