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No. 351, December 1998

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American Companies in Japan


In the future, the luggage of passengers arriving at Narita International Airport will be automatically screened for drugs. To further Japan's drug interdiction efforts, the Ministry of Finance's Customs Bureau has ordered a pair of detection systems from VIVID TECHNOLOGIES INC. that incorporate its advanced X-ray technology. The contract is the first one the Woburn, Massachusetts company has won in Japan. It also is the first time that Vivid, the world's top manufacturer of automated explosives detection systems for checking hand luggage, parcels and airline baggage, has adapted its technology for automated inspection of inbound baggage.

A codevelopment effort between the subsidiary of Bedford, Massachusetts-based MILLIPORE CORP., one of the international leaders in the field of precision filtering systems, and YAMATO SCIENTIFIC CO., LTD. has yielded a new system for producing distilled water for use in research labs. Conventional deionized water production systems use ion exchange resins that must be replaced periodically. The Auto Still WX710 eliminates this problem by incorporating a Millipore-supplied electron deionization module that is a continuous ion exchanger. Yamato Scientific, which is in charge of final assembly, will handle sales of the $14,900 product. It is projecting sales of 150 units in the first year and 500 annually after three years. This initial member of the Auto Still WX family can produce almost two quarts of distilled water an hour.

In another transpacific cooperative effort, SCIENTIFIC UTILIZATION, INC. of Huntsville, Alabama and ISHIKAWAJIMA HANYOKI SERVICE CO., LTD. have devised a system to recover about 90 percent of the abrasive grains from the slurry waste produced when silicon ingots are sliced into wafers. Their machine uses a pulse electric field to boost the recovery rate from the 40 percent achieved with conventional centrifugal separators. The system costs about $8.3 million. Tokyo-based IHS already has received one order for the system, which the development partners are comarketing.

Four vector network measurement systems developed by the microwave measurements division of ANRITSU CORP.'s Morgan Hill, California subsidiary are available through the parent company. The MS4622A and the MS4623A transmission reflection analyzers are one-path, two-port network analyzers designed to provide a combination of accuracy, stability, speed and system dynamic range for high-volume radio-frequency production requirements, while the MS4622B and the MS4623B measurement systems provide the capability to accurately characterize both active and passive devices. Anritsu has priced the four systems between $23,700 and $46,300. It expects a combined sales total of 60 units a year.

Machine vision systems leader COGNEX CORP. has released what it calls the world's first modular, automated surface inspection system for detecting, measuring and classifying defects in paper, plastics, metals, nonwovens and other products made in a continuous process. The SmartView Modular Camera Network, which builds on the Natick, Massachusetts company's Fine-Line system (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 18), consists of one or more CCD (charge-coupled device) cameras with camera-based inspection algorithms, a drag-and-drop Windows NT-based interface, a PC, a mounting frame and lighting components. The basic configuration of SmartView MCN costs $24,800.

Joining such heavyweights as KYOCERA CORP., SONY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP., the subsidiary of JOHNSON & JOHNSON has become an investor in CARENET, INC. For about $1.2 million, J&J acquired a 6.8 percent share in the first company in Japan to provide information on medical care and hospital management over the Internet and through digital satellite TV broadcasts. It already has more than 14,000 subscribers to its CareNet TV Medical Channel, which just started in July. CareNet also is developing a hospital network called Search PLUS.

The sale of its global coronary angioplasty and angiography lines to ARTERIAL VASCULAR ENGINEERING, INC. will lead to changes in C.R. BARD, INC.'s local operations next spring. At that time, the Murray Hill, New Jersey company will liquidate its subsidiary since these products made up the unit's main business. Bard will continue to be represented in Japan through MEDICON, INC., an equally owned venture with KOBAYASHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. that was formed more than 25 years ago. Osaka-headquartered Medicon markets various Bard vascular, urological, oncological and surgical products. The joint venture is projecting a 20 percent gain in sales to $82.6 million in the year through November 1999.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has approved for marketing SURGICAL LASER TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s laser fiber-optic delivery systems, probes, scalpels and related accessories. OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO., LTD. is the Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania company's distributor. It will market the products under the Diomed name for use with a diode laser manufactured by a British company of that name. SLT's equipment is applicable to virtually all general and specialty surgical procedures.

A new computed tomography scanner from GENERAL ELECTRIC CO.'s GE Medical Systems is on the market from GE-YOKOGAWA MEDICAL SYSTEMS, LTD. The CT HiSpeed Advantage QX/i, which lists for $6.2 million, is a multislice scanner. Unlike conventional single-slice systems, which provide one image for each rotation, this one can produce one, two or four images with each rotation. Not only does this capability provide better image quality, but the system is four times faster than single-slice scanners operating in axial mode. All of GE Medical Systems' HiSpeed CT scanners are built around SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s high- end graphic workstations.

TOHO KAGAKU KENYUSHO CO., LTD., a wholly owned subsidiary of Westbury, New York-based E-Z-EM, INC., has given RIKUTOH CO., LTD. exclusive distribution rights for three years to its parent's MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) contrast agents. Demand for these products is expanding with the growth in open-type MRI scanners. E-Z-EM is the world's biggest maker of contrast agents for diagnostic imaging of the gastrointestinal tract.

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

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