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No. 362, November 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


ELECTRIC MACHINERY

NITTO DENKO CORP. is scouting sites in Ohio and California for a R&D facility that it hopes will help put the company on the cutting edge of the electronics materials field. The Osaka prefecture firm currently makes such related products as LCD display polarizing sheets and flexible printed circuit boards. The facility, which will have a start-up staff of 10 and equipment to do prototype production, could be operational within a year. Among Nitto Denko's varied U.S. operations are HYDRANAUTICS, INC., a San Diego, California maker of reverse osmosis membrane elements, ultrafiltration elements and systems, and GRAPHIC TECHNOLOGY, INC., which makes bar-code labels and systems in New Century, Kansas.

In an alliance aimed at delivering integrated process control solutions to their respective customers, YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. has teamed with DRESSER EQUIPMENT GROUP, INC. to develop and market products, systems and management tools that comply with the international Foundation field-bus data-transmission standard. New products will include industrial automation systems, measurement devices and control valve systems. Initially, the partners will cooperate on technology and systems integration for a Foundation field-bus positioner. They bring complementary strengths to this task. YEW provides a wide variety of process field instruments, test and measurement equipment, distributed control systems, systems integration, software and services to customers worldwide, while Dallas-based Dresser, a HALLIBURTON CO. unit, is a global leader in equipment and services for the energy industry, including valves, instruments, engines, fuel dispensers and gas meters. Sources in Japan say that Yokogawa Electric pursued the alliance to keep pace with such rivals as YAMATAKE CORP.

The combination of a manufacturing license from MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and its own expertise enabled CMK CORP. to commercialize an ALIVH (any-layer interstitial via hole) printed circuit board for digital cameras. It already is delivering this product to EASTMAN KODAK CO. for its DC215 digital camera. MEI's ALIVH is an advanced substrate technology that specifically targets the design challenges created by shrinking vias, the pathways that carry a signal from one PCB layer to another. CMK initially applied this fix for high-density PCBs to cellular telephones before moving on to digital cameras; handheld electronic devices are a third target market. About 10 percent of its ALIVH PCB output now goes to Kodak.

DAISHINKU CORP., Japan's leading maker of crystal resonators, relocated one of its U.S. marketing subsidiaries to Marietta, Georgia from Overland Park, Kansas to better serve East Coast customers. A warehouse also was built at the new site to cut one or two days off delivery times. The Hyogo prefecture manufacturer also reorganized the distribution channels of its Costa Mesa, California subsidiary.

Four Japanese companies are among the members of a San Francisco organization formed to promote a common global infrastructure for smart-card implementation across multiple industries. GLOBALPLATFORM, INC.'s efforts should be aided by VISA INTERNATIONAL INC.'s decision to transfer its Open Platform card specifications and terminal framework to the group. This technology, now used by the financial services and telecommunications industries, can be implemented with the Java Card platform from SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. and Microsoft Windows for Smart Cards. GlobalPlatform's Japanese participants are JCB CO., LTD., the number-one credit-card issuer in Japan, NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP., NEC CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP.

VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. is working with PHOENIX TECHNOLOGIES LTD., the San Jose, California supplier of the BIOS software found in today's PCs, to develop a new audio/visual intellectual property technology standard for networking consumer electronics products and Internet appliances. AVIP will be designed to facilitate quick and easy connectivity to a network without a PC or PC-related equipment for directly downloading digital movies, digital music and the like. It also will provide automated configuration of the products and appliances. In addition, AVIP's security features will ensure the protection of copyrighted materials. By drawing on Phoenix's expertise in linking computing and communications technologies through its system-enabling technology, the partners hope within a year to develop AVIP and then win its acceptance as the international standard for connected devices.

A Pennsylvania state government program that has the dual objectives of fostering the development of next-generation technologies in such areas as digital networks and mobile communications and making Pittsburgh a technology center will have at least one Japanese participant. CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. signed on to the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse project, which brings together businesses, academic institutions and the government. The company will contribute $100,000 to the effort. Casio executives will be on the program's advisory board and also will help select proposals for funding.

Still fine-tuning the organization of its U.S. businesses (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 13), CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. gave CASIO COMMUNICATIONS INC. responsibility for sales and marketing of its audio products in North America. These include CD boom boxes, personal CD and cassette players, and travel clock radios. Over the next year, the line will be expanded to MD (minidisc) players, MP3-related products, DVD equipment and karaoke products. Torrance, California-based Casio Communications now markets telephone products for home and small business users.

An exchange rate of ¥106=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaa

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