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No. 357, June 1999

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American Companies in Japan


A second big Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer sees TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC.'s digital light processing technology as critical to its competitiveness in digital television sets. MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. has joined HITACHI, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 19) in agreeing to use DLP chips as the video engine in future all- digital, large-screen, high-definition rear-projection TVs. Both were sold on the ability of the only commercially available all-digital display know-how to deliver the high resolution, high contrast and small, lightweight package that will sell next-generation home display systems. MELCO expects the first product incorporating TI's DLP technology to be on the market in late 2000. That also is Hitachi's time frame.

Although barely a year old, SURVEYOR CORP. has opened a subsidiary in Tokyo to provide technical sales and support services to OEM manufacturers, Web site developers and corporate users of what it calls Intelligent Vision Network products. The San Luis Obispo, California start-up develops intelligent video processing and compression technologies for distributed data
networks. Its IVN products have potential for extending, enhancing or replacing human vision for image understanding in a variety of both simple and complex remote-sensing applications.

A collaborative effort between power system engineering researchers at GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. and CHUBU ELECTRIC CO., INC. has come up with a promising solution to the worst-case scenario that the fault-current duties of some of the big Japanese electric utility's 500- kilovolt circuit breakers in Mie prefecture might exceed their interruption capabilities. Instead of the obvious response, which would require an enormous investment and considerable systems engineering expertise, the two teams have proposed a fairly straightforward fault- current limiter. It consists of an isolation transformer and a series capacitor with high-energy varistor protection.

Industry analysts are forecasting explosive growth in the international market for solar batteries because of the demand by home builders for a clean energy source. To ensure that it remains the world leader in this field, transatlantic oil giant BP AMOCO P.L.C. will invest some $8.2 million in a subsidiary of KANEKA CORP. that expects to start making an inexpensive amorphous solar battery in October. BP SOLAREX of Frederick, Maryland, now a wholly owned subsidiary of the British multinational, will be Kaneka's actual partner. According to current plans, BP Amoco and Kaneka will form ventures in the United States, Europe and Asia to make the Japanese company's solar battery for sale through the BP Amoco worldwide distribution network. In the interim, about 30 percent of the projected solar battery output of the Japanese company's unit, forecast initially at the equivalent of 20 megawatts of generating capacity, will go to BP Amoco.

An exchange rate of ¥122=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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