Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 343, April 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


The Japan Defense Agency has taken delivery of two of the four AWACS (airborne warning and control system) planes it has on order with BOEING CO. The first such aircraft in the Air Self-Defense Force's fleet, the E- 767s, which are based on the 767 platform, track all aircraft, ships and ground troops within a 500-mile radius and send this information to command headquarters. Compared with the 10 or so E-2C Hawkeyes that the ASDF now uses for surveillance, the AWACS planes cover a larger area and provide much better monitoring at low altitudes. They also can be in the air for 12 hours without refueling. Each E-767 costs between $418,600 and $441,900. The other two AWACS planes are scheduled for delivery before March 1999.

A unique perforated, pressure-sensitive plastic film for advertising and signage that provides a one-way vision effect when applied to a transparent surface is on the market from developer and manufacturer CLEAR FOCUS IMAGING, INC. Clear Focus SuperVue is available in two sizes of 100-foot rolls: 54 inches (close to $1,200) and 36 inches ($735). Tokyo-based ACTION CO., LTD., the Santa Rosa, California company's distributor since late 1996, is handling sales.

Starting in April, selected JOMO service stations, a chain owned by oil distributor JAPAN ENERGY CORP., are offering a vehicle exterior coating service with technical support and product supply from SUMITOMO 3M LTD. The service, expected to be available at 1,000 JOMO gas stations in five years, costs between $155 and double that. It is said to make a car or truck look brand-new. Sumitomo 3M not only is providing its know-how and MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO. waxes but also is in charge of training service station personnel.

The Mad Cobra roller coaster at the Suzuka Circuitland theme park outside Tokyo should appeal to people seeking new thrills. Built by PREMIER RIDES of Millersville, Maryland, the state-of-the-art roller coaster uses linear induction motors to catapult riders from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds. It takes riders upside-down four times and speeds them through 30 vertical curves and 25 horizontal curves during the 144-second ride. KAWASHO CORP. was the deal's intermediary.

Less adventurous types might be interested in the TredWall, a stimulated rock face for climbing from BREWERS LEDGE INC. of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. NISSHO IWAI CORP. is importing the $14,300 product. A local company will rent TredWall for $775 the first day and $155 a day thereafter. The trader could buy as many as 100 TredWalls the first year.

Foothill Ranch, California-based OAKLEY INC. now is distributing its high- end sunglasses directly to retailers of surfing equipment and snowboards. It previously established direct operations in the snow ski, bicycle, sunglass specialty and sporting goods retail channels.

With the government now covering part of the cost of home health care, BEVERLY JAPAN CORP. is moving into this business. The company — a 13- year-old joint venture between retirement community operator BEVERLY ENTERPRISES, INC. of Fort Smith, Arkansas (41 percent), general contractor SHIMIZU CORP. (42.7 percent) and seven other Japanese companies — already has established a home health-care unit at one of its nine retirement centers and plans to do the same at two others. They will send aides or nurses to people's homes to assist them with bathing, dressing and similar everyday tasks or to provide more specialized help. BJC also is offering consulting services to nursing homes. The eight BJC facilities open at the start of 1998 (seven of which are located within an hour of Tokyo by train) had a total of 1,423 apartments. The company also had 103 nursing home-type beds at four of the retirement facilities. Five of the centers had clinics with 83 beds, and two had assisted-living units with 55 beds.

Like American financial services providers, big accounting firm KPMG PEAT MARWICK LLP sees opportunity in Japan's Big Bang. It launched a financial services consulting company in Tokyo that will have 10 experts on board by June and a staff of 100 within three years. The firm will advise banks, brokers and insurers on internal management systems and capital asset management strategies as well as on how to cope with changing regulations at home and abroad.

The local consulting arm of accountant PRICE WATERHOUSE LLP has established a unit to provide management consulting services to companies in the entertainment, media and communications industries. Part of Price Waterhouse's global Entertainment, Media and Communications Group, the new organization will help clients with industry-specific strategic planning, technology planning and implementation, and business process design and reengineering. Price Waterhouse has more than 400 employees in Japan.

Information technology industry tracker and analyst GARTNER GROUP, INC. formed a Tokyo-headquartered company with NIPPON WILSON WORLDWIDE, INC. to develop and distribute computer- and Internet-based IT training products in Japan. WILSON GARTNER GROUP K.K., in which the Stamford, Connecticut business has a 51 percent interest, has more than 40 people on staff to localize and develop products. It is releasing on average two new course training titles a week. Prior to the partnership, Gartner Group's affiliate had released more than 40 Japan-adapted course titles.

An exchange rate of ¥129=$1.00 was used in this report.

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