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No. 363, December 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


Santa Clara, California is the location of YASKAWA ELECTRIC CORP.'s U.S. mechatronics marketing unit (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 6). The staff of 10 or so is working to develop customers among semiconductor makers in Silicon Valley for Yaskawa Electric's compact servos, machine controllers and other motion control products, its wide range of drives and its robotics equipment, particularly clean-room robots. In time, the office, which is run by YASKAWA ELECTRIC AMERICA, INC. of Northbrook, Illinois, is expected to help advance the company's technology in the mechatronics field.

By yearend, SMK CORP., a big maker of connectors, switches and other mechanical components for computer, communications and consumer electronics products, planned to open an office to market connectors and other parts for cellular telephones to North American suppliers of this equipment. The site selection process has not been completed, but the Chicago area reportedly is a leading candidate for the new facility. In the United States, SMK plans to target sales to U.S. manufacturers, while its Mexican marketing effort will be directed at Japanese companies producing there. The company already has a distribution subsidiary in Placentia, California. It also makes remote controls for audio and video equipment there.

NICHICON CORP., Japan's top producer of aluminum capacitors and a major maker of tantalum capacitors, and VISHAY INTERTECHNOLOGY, INC. have agreed to combine R&D efforts to advance the state of the art in tantalum capacitors as well as in related materials and production equipment. The Malvern, Pennsylvania company has expertise in this area through its Sprague division. A primary focus of the work will be to lower the ESR (equivalent series resistance) of tantalum capacitors to meet the increasingly demanding requirements of desktop and notebook computer makers and communications equipment suppliers. As a result of the collaboration, Vishay expects to introduce shortly an organic polymer tantalum capacitor with an extremely low ESR. NEC CORP. and KEMET ELECTRONICS CORP. have a similar tie-up (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 6).

Even after all these years, SONY CORP.'s technical prowess still can wow people. The latest demonstration is the VAIO Music Clip. Called a personal network player, this sleek, cigar-size device stores and plays secure digital music content downloaded from the Internet or transferred from an audio CD. The VAIO Music Clip, which has 64 MB of flash memory, holds up to 120 minutes of music files stored using Sony's ATRAC3 audio compression technology. It plugs into the USB port of almost any VAIO desktop or portable PC and downloads an hour of music in about three minutes. On-the-go users can get approximately five hours of continuous playback from a single AA alkaline battery. The VAIO Music Clip will be available in January 2000 at a suggested price of $300.

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