Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 357, June 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Through an investment of $8.2 million, CORNING INC. will expand capacity by 20 percent at its Osuga, Shizuoka prefecture plant, a key source of glass substrates for Japan's once-again expanding LCD manufacturers. The factory's seventh production line should be operational by yearend. The facility currently turns out between 30,000 and 40,000 glass substrates a day. That output is key to Corning's claim to 60 percent of the world market for LCD glass substrates. Executives also have said that the company is prepared to make additional investments in the Shizuoka plant if demand from makers of LCDs requires such a move.

Home building supplier MASCO CORP. has set ambitious goals for its Japanese business: sales of $41 million in 2002 and double that in 2004. The Taylor, Michigan company — the manufacturer of Merillat kitchen cabinets, Delta faucets, water systems, door locks and other hardware, and a variety of other products for the home — sees an expanded distribution network as vital to the achievement of its target since its Japan-tailored products on average already cost 20 percent to 30 percent less than the domestic competition's. Masco currently works with 10 regional distributors. The company wants to raise this number to 20 or even 25 in the short run, plus sign up two or three companies that have nationwide sales channels. At the same time, it hopes to strengthen ties with home improvement centers. Masco currently supplies only one such retailer.

The BriteSmile 2000 teeth-whitening system soon will be available to dentists in Japan. BRITESMILE, INC. of Lester, Pennsylvania has agreed to form a majority-owned venture with optical instrument maker MEJIRO PRECISION INC. to introduce what it says is the fastest and most effective procedure for whitening teeth. The new company will make its money from licensing the BriteSmile 2000 system to dentists as well as from selling them a whitening gel.

The golfing craze in Japan might be over because of hard economic times in the 1990s, but TEARDROP GOLF CO. still sees sales opportunities there. The Morton Grove, Illinois company has teamed as a minority partner with KINDAI GOLF CO., LTD. to form a business that has sales, marketing and distribution rights to all TearDrop golf club and accessory brands except Walter Genuin golf shoes.

MART FRANCHISE VENTURE L.L.C. of Paramus, New Jersey and Tokyo's SUPER STAGE INC. will cosponsor the International Franchise Show & Business Expo 2000 in March 2000 in Tokyo. Billed as the premier showcase for transpacific franchise business opportunities, the exposition is expected to draw about 130 Japanese and 30 foreign exhibitors and to attract as many as 30,000 visitors.

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

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