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No. 351, December 1998

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American Companies in Japan


The aft fuselage for Japan's first production F-2 support fighter aircraft has been delivered to prime contractor MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. by LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP. The top U.S. defense contractor, the builder of the F-16 on which the F-2 is based, will provide the aft fuselages for all 130 planned production F-2 aircraft. The company's Tactical Aircraft Systems unit in Fort Worth, Texas also will supply all the wing leading-edge flaps, eight of 10 left-hand wing boxes, all the stores management systems and other avionics and avionics support equipment for the plane. MHI is scheduled to deliver the first production F-2 to the Japan Defense Agency in early 2000.

Cushion Pack, a heavy-duty, air-bubble packaging material developed by SEALED AIR CORP. exclusively for the Japanese market, is being sold by CREATIVE PACKAGING CORP., the Saddle Brook, New Jersey manufacturer's year-old joint venture with JAPAN SYNTHETIC RUBBER CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 25). A sheet measuring roughly 10 feet wide and 164 feet long costs $33.

Face masks that can filter out as much as 99.8 percent of all particulate matter have been released by 3M HEALTHCARE LTD., a Tokyo-based unit of the pharmaceuticals division of MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO. The three types of masks, which have a minimum efficiency rating of 99.5 percent and are equipped with air tubes to vent humidity and heat, are priced between $4.40 and $18.20 each. 3M Healthcare believes that the new products can develop into a $2.5 million business in the first year.

The subsidiary of Irvine, California-based PROLONG SUPER LUBRICANTS, INC. has named CHUGAI SHOKO CO., LTD. to market its automotive lubricating products. These include the Prolong Fuel System Treatment and the Prolong Engine Treatment Concentrate. The Nagano prefecture distributor is looking for sales of $413,200 in the initial year of the marketing agreement.

The fight for share in Japan's razor market will heat up in the spring when GILLETTE CO.'s subsidiary introduces the MACH3. The world's largest maker of razors hopes that the MACH3's revolutionary triple-blade shaving system will help it double market share to 40 percent. WARNER-LAMBERT CO.'s Schick brand now generates 37 percent of Japanese razor sales. KAI-JIRUSHI CO., LTD., which has been selling a triple-blade razor since March, is second with a 33 percent cut of the business, followed by Gillette with 20 percent. The MACH3 will be priced at $10.75. Blades will cost $8.25 (package of four) or $14.90 (eight).

Two giants in toys and games are tying up. HASBRO, INC. has signed a long-term distribution agreement with TOMY CO., LTD. under which Japan's second-largest toy manufacturer will be the exclusive Japanese distributor of essentially all of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island company's toy and game products. Hasbro's brands include Playskool, Kenner, Tonka, Super Soaker, Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. Its subsidiary has tried to boost sales in recent years by expanding the line of merchandise for Japan.

An unnamed furniture retailer has ordered a container load of outdoor wood furniture from the LEISURE LIFE, INC. subsidiary of Delavan, Wisconsin-based AJAY SPORTS, INC. The order was placed through Leisure Life's Web site, which has customized tools that allow buyers to determine the optimal number of units to purchase to fill a container so that transportation costs are minimized.

The McCann Relationship Marketing unit of major advertising agency MCCANN- ERICKSON WORLD GROUP acquired a Tokyo data base management firm. ISD has annual billings of $25 million. Its clients include ORACLE CORP., BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP. and AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, INC.

Boston's DELPHI GROUP, which provides market research and advisory services for knowledge management, document management, work flow and business process automation, has recruited MUTSUMI ENTERPRISES as a consulting partner for Japan. A major focus of the Tokyo firm will be to show corporate Japan how to acquire, share and leverage knowledge by using computer networking technology.

A Manhattan specialist in marketing strategies for food retailers has been retained by SUNNY CO., LTD., a regional supermarket chain based in Fukuoka, to help it stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace. CDI GROUP, INC. is in the process of designing a new store layout for the chain as well as developing distinctive architectural and interior designs for Sunny's 60 existing supermarkets.

Last July, the Diet passed legislation allowing companies to store their tax records electronically. Despite the cost advantages of this option, many businesses reportedly are reluctant to abandon hard copies for fear of running afoul of the law's tough standards. Enter NIHON UNISYS, LTD. and the accounting and auditing partnership of DELOITTE TOUCHE TOHMATSU. Starting this month, they are offering consulting services to companies that want to move to electronic storage of their tax records. The pair will advise clients not only how to configure their systems but also how to conform with the law's requirements for data accuracy, transparency and verifiability.

COPC, INC. of Williamsville, New York will review call centers and fulfillment centers for compliance with the COPC-2000 standard, which uses criteria based on customer service, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency to evaluate performance. It then will advise clients that come up short. COPC, which also will evaluate companies that outsource their call center and/or distribution services, is working with a Japanese consulting firm to develop a customer base.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.

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