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

No. 345, June 1998

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Japanese Companies in the US


TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC., the world's biggest electricity provider, has ordered $500 million-plus worth of turbines and generators from GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. to expand its Chiba prefecture generating plant. With the additional equipment, the capacity of the liquefied natural gas-fired facility will expand from 2,000 megawatts now to 5,040 MW by July 2001. The contract was announced amid growing U.S. pressure on Japan's electric utilities to buy more American-made power equipment. TEPCO executives said, however, that their decision to award the large contract to GE, a longtime supplier, was motivated solely by the company's drive to slash electricity rates by buying the lowest-priced quality equipment available.

In an effort to boost its small, general-purpose gasoline engine business, MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. has launched direct sales in the United States and Europe. Until now, the company exclusively supplied engines to BRIGGS & STRATTON CORP. on an OEM basis. MHI is projecting engine sales under its name in the United States and Europe at 22,000 units in FY 1998. Milwaukee, Wisconsin- based B&S forecasts sales of Vanguard-brand engines in these two markets at 150,000 units in its 1998 reporting year.

The product line offered by PANASONIC FACTORY AUTOMATION CO. now includes the Panasert MMC high-speed component mounter. The machine, which fits in front of the feeder carriage of assembly machines, features a 10-nozzle, two-head pickup system. That configuration allows the simultaneous pickup of 10 components and their placement in just 0.2 second per part. The Franklin Park, Illinois firm is a MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. affiliate.

An innovative line of fittings for water pipelines has been introduced by Cary, North Carolina-based SUIKEN + KENNEDY, LLP. ONE-BOLT fittings are self-contained units with all the parts needed for sealing (via an o-ring seal), restraining and joint assembly. They require no beveling of the pipe and no special assembly tools. Disassembly is said to be just as easy as assembly. Plus, ONE-BOLT fittings work on both polyvinyl chloride and ductile iron pipe. Suiken + Kennedy is owned by SUIKEN TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. of Osaka.

A far greater variety of products are available from vending machines in Japan than in the United States, including CDs and videotapes. That convenience has arrived here. NIPPON TMI CO., LTD., a Nagano prefecture-based maker of video rental "robots," has signed up ANIMAZING ENTERTAINMENT INC. to distribute its MS-2 vending machine. It holds 256 CDs or 140 videotapes and is operated by voice message. The Chester, New Jersey company hopes to install 300 machines in the first year, mostly in movie theaters.

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

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