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

No. 343, April 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


By the year 2001, police stations across Japan will be equipped with systems that digitally scan suspects' fingerprints and palm prints for transmission to the automated fingerprint identification system at National Police Agency headquarters in Tokyo. Livescanner was developed by UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary in collaboration with a local company for project manager MITSUI & CO., LTD. Systems already have been delivered to NPA and police in several prefectures. Priced between $38,800 and $46,500, Livescanner sharply reduces the time needed to check suspects' prints against records. The current manual identification system using ink and paper takes several weeks. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has released a CDMA (code-division multiple access) mobile station test set that helps service providers and repair centers reduce the cost of mobile phone testing without sacrificing quality or thoroughness. The HP 8924E is designed for incoming inspection, failure verification, repair verification and customer return testing of both CDMA cellular and PCS (personal communications services) phones. It also can be used for trouble-shooting and verification on manufacturing lines. The HP 8924E mobile station test set is priced at $29,000. The software card, which can be configured to run preselected automated tests, costs $2,000. HP Japan expects to sell 250 units a year.

Printed circuit board assembly manufacturers challenged by shorter product life cycles, greater product miniaturization and advanced chip packaging technologies are the target customers for HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s HP 3070 Series 3 test system. Priced at $58,100 and up, the product automatically generates full in-circuit tests, including complete diagnostics, with as little as 50 percent electric access. It also is claimed to deliver test throughput speeds up to twice as fast as existing in-circuit systems. Shipments are expected to start in July.

Several unnamed Japanese electronics device manufacturers have installed Shuttlelock 770 thin-film plasma processing systems built by PLASMA-THERM, INC. The equipment will be used to develop and fabricate leading-edge MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) devices through deep silicon etching using etch technology licensed from Germany's ROBERT BOSCH GMBH. MEMS devices are expected to find use in such products as automotive sensors, ink-jet head cartridges and magnetic disk drives. The Shuttlelock 770 incorporates the St. Petersburg, Florida supplier's inductively coupled plasma technology.

An active differential probe for use with oscilloscopes is available through Chestnut Ridge, New York-based LECROY CORP.'s subsidiary. The 500-MHz AP033 is said to offer unusually extensive gain and attentuation factors, low noise and excellent common mode rejection. The wide offset range of the $3,100 system enables it to capture and measure very small signal characteristics riding on top of larger signals. Applications for the AP033 are testing hard disk drives and heads, telecommunications equipment and high-speed digital and analog designs. LeCroy's affiliate is projecting annual sales at 200 units.

The combination of SCS CORP.'s radio frequency identification technology and HITACHI MAXELL, LTD.'s ultrathin manufacturing capability has yielded a feature-rich contactless smart card that is just 0.25 millimeter thick for the San Diego, California company's i2 (interactive identification) System (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 333, June 1997, p. 14). The cards, which contain a complete read/write data base capable of storing 1,024 bits of information, will run through virtually any printer, whether bar code, laser or commercial. They are targeted at such applications as airline and mass transit ticketing, debit cards and parcel distribution. Hitachi Maxell not only will manufacture the contactless smart cards but market them outside Japan. There, JAPAN INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. is in charge of marketing.

CAPITAL CONTROLS CO., INC. of Colmar, Pennsylvania has tapped ATAKA CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING CO., LTD. as the sole distributor of its ultraviolet disinfection products for the control of waterborne microorganisms. The Osaka company, which is strong in the engineering and construction of water and wastewater treatment facilities, is handling the Model 8300 Scorpion open-channel ultraviolet disinfection system for outdoor operation and the Model 8101 closed-vessel ultraviolet disinfection system for installation on the water feed to a dwelling or a facility. Ataka has forecast 1998 sales of Capital Controls products at $7.8 million.

For unstated reasons, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. dropped NEC CORP.'s medical systems affiliate as the exclusive marketer of the ImagePoint multispecialty ultrasound system. The various imaging modes of what otherwise is known as the M2410A allow it to be used for abdominal, cardiac, vascular, pediatric and a long list of other ultrasound applications.

In their third distribution agreement, INTEGRA LIFESCIENCES CORP. gave CENTURY MEDICAL INC. the right to distribute two neurosurgery products currently in the development phase. They are a dural regeneration device and a peripheral nerve regeneration conduit. The wholly owned ITOCHU CORP. subsidiary will pay an up-front licensing fee of $1 million and invest $4 million in the Plainsboro, New Jersey company's preferred stock. Century Medical also will underwrite all costs associated with clinical trials in Japan and the regulatory approval process. The other two Integra products it distributes are hemostatic devices and INTEGRA Artificial Skin.

Start-up ENDOLOGIX INC., which has developed an alternative to surgical bypass for the treatment of aortic aneurysms, has formed an alliance with COSMOTEC CO., LTD. That company will have exclusive rights to distribute the PowerWeb System, an endoluminal prosthesis that enables people with aortic aneurysms to be treated via a percutaneous, nonsurgical procedure. Cosmotec also will make a "substantial" investment in the Irvine, California company. The partners will work together to gain Ministry of Health and Welfare marketing approval for the PowerWeb System.

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

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