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No. 360, September 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


Rather than open stores in the United States like it has in London and Paris, private- brand retailer RYOHIN KEIKAKU CO., LTD. has set up an Internet "branch store." Its Muji (no brand) site offers a variety of household goods, beauty items and stationery products. The SEIYU, LTD. affiliate fills the orders in Japan and uses UPS to ship them to American customers. Ryohin Keikaku sees Muji not just as a way to expand its business but, more importantly, as a means of gaining first-hand experience with on- line retailing in the market where Internet sales are the most prevalent.

Two more Internet start-ups have caught the eye of Japanese investors. JAFCO CO., LTD., Japan's largest venture capital firm, joined three other companies in raising $13 million in third-round financing for AUDIOSOFT. The San Francisco firm provides digital copy-right management services for the music industry. Its system captures, organizes and delivers information about Internet usage for record labels, copyright collection groups and on-line retailers. It is designed to support national copyright laws in all major music markets as well as existing and future audio compression technologies. PANASONIC DISC SERVICES CORP., a MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. subsidiary, has agreed to invest in and provide advice to Seattle's M-2K, which just launched DVDromshop.com. The on-line superstore for DVD-ROMs offers a complete catalog of software titles for this format as well as enhanced DVD movie titles and other special selections. It also is an information source for what is happening in the DVD-ROM world. In exchange for its help, Torrance, California-based PDSC, a DVD replication operation, will receive promotional considerations on DVDromshop.com.

Professional animators have an alternative to complex, high-end animation packages in RETAS! PRO Infinity 5, a package developed by CELSYS, INC. This three- dimensional solution combines a trio of tools: TraceMan, a scanning module that imports drawings, layouts and backgrounds through a scanner or a video camera; PaintMan, which is used to modify and paint scanned pencil drawings; and CoreRETAS, which can compose a conventional exposure sheet that indicates up to 54 layers of cels and four kinds of camera work and that includes an unlimited number of special effects. The Japanese version of RETAS! PRO v5 is out now. An English- language release is due in November. Tokyo-based CELSYS gave DIGIMATION, INC. of St. Rose, Louisiana exclusive U.S. distribution rights.

Version 2.0 of Scenarist NT, which Novato, California-based DAIKIN U.S. COMTEC LABORATORIES bills as the world's most used and most advanced DVD authoring software, is on the market. Developer DAIKIN INDUSTRIES, LTD. made several performance enhancements to the product, including project wizards and project templates. It also improved user interfaces and accelerated processing of subtitles and disc images. Ease-of-use features were incorporated as well, allowing even novices to create DVD titles in just minutes, according to the company.

In October, KISSEI COMTEC CO., LTD., a medical software developer affiliated with KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., will open a marketing subsidiary in Irvine, California. It will complement the marketing unit in Hackensack, New Jersey that the company launched this summer. Kissei Comtec has developed more than 20 medical analysis software titles.

An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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