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

No. 347, August 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


An antibacterial skin protectant developed by BIO-SAFE SKIN PRODUCTS is available through exclusive distributor SCI-PARK CORP. of Nagano prefecture. The Milwaukie, Oregon company describes the product as an invisible glove that helps to minimize food-borne infections from such bacteria as E. coli and salmonella, other bacterial infections and cross- contamination of germs from one person to another. Sci-Park is marketing Bio-Safe Antibacterial Skin Protectant to health-care facilities and commercial food preparation locations. A 34-fluid-ounce container costs about $105.

Under a five-year agreement, IBC ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES, INC. has given TAKUMA CO., LTD. exclusive rights to use and market in Japan its SuperLig technology and related engineering and process systems for selectively separating and recovering such metals as lead and zinc from the fly ash and wastewater produced by incineration plants. Amagasaki, Hyogo prefecture-based Takuma has installed a metals recovery pilot test plant at its technical center. Its goal is to commercialize by 2000 an incinerator that incorporates the SuperLig technology.

The environmental consulting firm of WALSH ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS, INC. has teamed up with JAPAN GROUND WATER DEVELOPMENT CO., LTD. to move into the local market for environmental site assessments and remediation services, which involve the removal of contaminants from air, soil, ground water and surface water. The Boulder, Colorado company and its Yamagata prefecture partner bring complementary expertise to the collaboration.

Big discount office products catalog seller VIKING OFFICE PRODUCTS INC. now expects to launch sales in Japan early next year, or about six months later than initially anticipated. The Los Angeles company has established a wholly owned subsidiary and call center in Tokyo. It also is building a distribution center near Fuji City in Shizuoka prefecture to provide free next-day delivery of orders to customers located in about three-quarters of Japan.

A transpacific partnership has been formed to cash in on the booming demand for entertainment content in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. Tokyo- based TOWANI CORP. will produce and distribute high-caliber movies at the rate of one or two a year from 2000. It also could move into the field of television programming. Towani's owners bring considerable clout to both jobs. They are TIME WARNER INC.'s Warner Bros. unit, which owns 43.3 percent of the new entertainment company, 33.3-percent owner NIPPON TELEVISION NETWORK CORP., the operator of Japan's largest commercial television network, and TOSHIBA CORP., which has a 23.3 percent stake in the venture. The trio has been discussing business opportunities in the Japanese and worldwide entertainment markets since May 1997.

Another Hollywood heavyweight sees money to be made in delivering television programming to Japan's multiplying entertainment channels. SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. and parent SONY CORP. formed a Japan-based group to supply this demand. Its business will include both original content, produced with help from Sony Pictures' Columbia TriStar television division, and licensed American and international films and TV shows. Earlier, Sony Pictures and Sony agreed to develop animated films for local distribution (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 29).

Starting this fall, individual investors in Japan will be able to obtain independently generated information about the performance of specific mutual funds, something that is in short supply now. The recently formed joint venture between MORNINGSTAR, INC., the Chicago developer of the five-star fund rating system, and SOFTBANK CORP. will begin publishing a monthly newsletter and fund report. Early next year, the partners plan to launch a Japanese version of Principia, a CD-ROM product that will allow prospective investors to analyze information on roughly 1,000 mutual funds.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS SIMULATIONS INC., a Del Mar, California company that offers business management training courses over the Internet, is working with ITOCHU CORP.'s human resources training subsidiary to bring its program to corporate Japan. The 10-week courses use simulated settings to train executives and other personnel. The cost of the program for a six-person group is $10,600.

The concept of managed care will be introduced to Japan's health-care market by 2000, according to plans outlined by CIGNA CORP. and its Cigna HealthCare affiliate. Through its CIGNA ACCIDENT AND FIRE INSURANCE CO., LTD. subsidiary, the big nonlife insurer will offer software it developed to managers of corporate health plans. The program teaches patients how to keep costs low while still obtaining quality medical treatment. It also provides information on how to select health-care professionals and facilities, advice on drugs and tips on basic health.

An exchange rate of ¥141=$1.00 was used in this report.

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