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

No. 345, June 1998

Issue Index

Japanese Companies in the US


F-2 fighter aircraft prime contractor MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. has tapped the Sanders unit of LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP. to provide its next-generation mission planning systems. The MPS III systems, which are similar to the Air Force Mission Support Systems that Nashua, New Hampshire Sanders is building for the U.S. Air Force, help flight crews with such premission functions as flight, route and weapons delivery planning as well as with post-flight analysis and debriefing. Three MPS III systems will be delivered to MHI beginning in February 1999. Each will comprise a Unix-based workstation, the latest commercial off-the-shelf hardware and 16-inch flat panel displays. Sanders personnel will provide training and support the conversion of the user interface to accept and display characters in Japanese.

Via ITOCHU CORP.'s aviation sales subsidiary in El Segundo, California, RAYTHEON CO. was awarded a $49 million contract to install weapons systems on two of the Maritime Self-Defense Force's destroyers. The four Phalanx close-in weapon systems, a computer-controlled gun system that destroys ship-bound threats, are scheduled to be in place by November 2000. This contract represents the first time the Japan Defense Agency has acquired the Phalanx system directly from Raytheon. Previous orders were handled through the U.S. government's Foreign Military Sales program.

Japan's top manufacturer of ceramic tile is setting up shop in Atlanta. Nagoya-based NICHIHA CORP. will provide 60 percent of the capital for its first offshore subsidiary, with SUMITOMO CORP. supplying the rest. No specific date has been set for the launch of sales since the new company first must complete its market research. In 2000, however, Nichiha is projecting revenues of $10 million. Its U.S. product line will include roofing materials as well as ceramic tile.

Having completed a U.S. market feasibility study, KOKUYO CO., LTD., first in Japan in the production of stationery and also strong in office furniture and equipment, has elevated its Schaumburg, Illinois organization from a liaison office to a subsidiary. The office was opened in September 1997. The full-fledged unit now is investigating marketing channels for stationery and other paper products.

Sagging revenues and profits forced the sale of commercial printer CALSONIC MIURA GRAPHICS, INC. to an unnamed American company for $11 million. CALSONIC CORP., one of NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.'s biggest parts supplier, and MIURA PRINTING CORP. formed the Irvine, California company in 1991 in the belief that the business could thrive by printing advertisements for Nissan vehicles. Stumbling Nissan sales in the United States thwarted that strategy.

Analysts are predicting that one of this year's Christmas crazes for children will be products based on Pocket Monsters characters, the Americanized version of the good and evil pocket monsters in Japan's wildly popular Pokemon animated TV show. Pokemon creator NINTENDO CO., LTD. has awarded big toy maker HASBRO, INC. a master license for the right to sell in the United States and in other countries outside Asia a line of games, action figures, stuffed animals, plastic balls and other toys based on the 150-odd Pokemon characters. Backed by a reportedly big promotional campaign, the Pawtucket, Rhode Island company will launch U.S. sales of Pocket Monsters products in the fourth quarter.

The technical assistance agreement between WALGREEN CO., the biggest operator of drugstores in the United States, and RX NETWORK INC., an ITOCHU CORP.-led group that is setting up a chain of pharmacies (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 333, June 1997, p. 13), has turned out to be a two-way arrangement. RX Network will help the Deerfield, Illinois-headquartered company implement the ISDN (integrated services digital network) that is its key to managing information on customers' prescriptions and their medical history. Through ISDN lines and satellite links, the system links a central computer with terminals located in pharmacies. RX Network will provide technical assistance to Walgreen for up to three years, during which time the drugstore operator will tailor the system to its own requirements.

To quickly implement the rights it gained in the January U.S.-Japan aviation agreement, NIPPON CARGO AIRLINES CO., LTD. has made separate arrangements with UNITED PARCEL SERVICE OF AMERICA INC. and NWA INC., the parent of Northwest Airlines, to operate joint transpacific cargo flights. At the start, NCA will use UPS planes on the Narita/Chicago and Osaka/Chicago routes while also sharing space with Northwest on flights between Osaka and Chicago.

An exchange rate of ¥135=$1.00 was used in this report.

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