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

No. 344, May 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


An Arizona consulting firm has developed nonferrous metal waste recycling technology for CHICHIBU ONODA CEMENT CORP., which plans to use it to build up its environmental business. In this process, ammonia and sulfuric acid are used to separate metals from burned ash in incinerators. Japan's top cement maker will sell the recovered scrap to nonferrous metals dealers and use the ash as a cement raw material.

Another high-performance composite building material developed by Mankato, Minnesota-based PHENIX BIOCOMPOSITES, INC. is available through distributor ECO SIGMA INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD. The BIOFIBER Wheat Composite board uses fiber left over from crop harvesting. The lightweight, durable and strong material has a smooth surface that is golden in color. It is suited for cabinets, door cores, wall panels, shelving and similar applications. Eco Sigma, headquartered in Yonezawa, Yamanashi prefecture, has renamed the product EcoBoard and priced a sheet measuring roughly 35 inches by 70 inches between $15.15 and $22.75, depending on the thickness.

Revamping its Japan marketing strategy, the PhotoCard division of Santa Barbara, California's U-SEAL-IT CO., INC. has tied up with G.R. ASSOCIATES, INC. to distribute its self-laminating, credit-card-size frame for photographs. The Tokyo firm, in turn, named GALLIA 21 CO., LTD. to market the $1.90 PhotoCard. They are projecting the sale of 1.6 million sheets.

Bellevue, Washington SONICARE INC. appointed MITSUI & CO., LTD. the exclusive distributor of its sonic toothbrush. The electric-operated Sonicare, priced at $150, combines high-speed brushing and sonic wave action to remove plaque bacteria from between teeth and below the gum line. Mitsui is projecting sales of 500,000 Sonicares over five years.

World Wrestling Federation action figures and related products from JAKKS PACIFIC INC. of Malibu, California are being marketed exclusively to retailers by TSUKUDA ORIGINAL CO., LTD., one of Japan's big toy distributors. The country's action figure market is said to be still relatively undeveloped but is expanding quickly.

Beginning in July, manufacturers and retailers of computers, printers, monitors and other peripherals will have a new source of monthly information on sales in Japan. INTELECT ASW L.L.C. of Port Washington, New York will compile data on sales as well as brand share and pricing from the point-of-sale records of major retailers, dealers and mail-order sellers. These reports will be consistent with those covering the information technology market in the United States and Europe. Intelect ASW is a joint venture of three leading marketing information providers: NPD GROUP, INC., GFK AG and AUDITS AND SURVEYS WORLDWIDE, INC.

An exchange rate of ¥132=$1.00 was used in this report.

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