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No. 361, October 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Bar-coding to track materials, monitor inventory and perform other supply chain-related functions could become a thing of the past if an alliance between MO-TOROLA INC. and TOPPAN FORMS CO., LTD. lives up to its potential. They have agreed to develop and market "smart" label solutions that integrate Motorola's unique BiStatix radio frequency identification technology into Toppan Forms' labels and forms. The information contained in the paper-based smart labels and forms will be readable and modifiable through a wireless interface, giving these products a distinct advantage over bar codes. Moreover, BiStatix tags can be read without a clear line of sight and are not rendered useless by moisture, dirt, dust or paint. Motorola and its partner — which also is working on smart label solutions using technology licensed from POLYMER FLIP CHIP CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 24) — expect to have their first products on the market early in 2000.

New York City's BROWNE & CO., INC., the world's largest financial printer, has established a full-service financial printing office in Tokyo. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the office has the resources to prepare, translate and print documents for Japanese companies listing their shares overseas or selling bonds abroad. It also is prepared to handle all information-management services for its multinational financial clients operating in Japan. In 2000, the new Browne office expects to do $4.6 million worth of business.

ZipLock plastic containers from S.C. JOHNSON & SON, INC. are on store shelves. At $3.70 for a package of three, the product costs about half of what similar, locally made containers do. ASAHI CHEMICAL INDUSTRY CO., LTD. is the exclusive importer of the ZipLock containers, while Tokyo-based SARAN WRAP SALES K.K. is in charge of marketing. It is projecting sales of $9.3 million in the first year. Together with already introduced ZipLock storage bags, Saran Wrap Sales believes that the ZipLock line can generate revenues of $92.6 million in five years.

GOLFGEAR INTERNATIONAL INC. awarded exclusive East Asian distribution rights to its golf clubs and other golf equipment and accessories to M.C. CORP. The pact excludes South Korea, where distribution arrangements already are in place. To improve its chances of success, the Huntington Beach, California company will design products specifically for the Asian market. As part of the deal, M.C., which has interests in real estate and construction, made a $2 million equity investment in GolfGear.

To promote the sale of its movie titles on DVDs in Japan as well as elsewhere in Asia and in Australia, the home entertainment international division of TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORP. signed a tie-in deal with DVD player manufacturer MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. The two-year exclusive arrangement covering Japan began in October with the release of "Titanic" on DVD. Under it, MEI will provide TV and print advertising, point-of-sale materials and trade-show sponsorship.

Information on on-line user behavior soon will be available to advertisers, media planners, Web site operators and e-commerce firms in Japan on a weekly and monthly basis. The recently established Tokyo subsidiary of NETRATINGS, INC., an Internet media tracker and market researcher, will use randomly selected terminals to calculate how many hits particular Web sites get and which ads are clicked on and how often. The Milpitas, California start-up expects its Japan revenues to total $3.2 million in FY 2000 and $4.6 million in FY 2001. NetRatings financed its move into Japan in part by using money TRANS COSMOS INC.'s Bellevue, Washington investment unit invested in it in August.

An exchange rate of ¥108=$1.00 was used in this report.

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