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Japan's Matsushita to Build World's Largest TV Plant


Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Company plans to double its production of plasma display panels and the chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation speaks about General Motors declining market share. These stories and more in our weekly look at business news in Japan.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Company, which makes Panasonic brand products, plans to build the world's largest plant to make plasma display television panels. The new plant will begin operations in July 2007, and when it reaches full capability in April 2008, it will produce six million display panels a year.

Matsushita, the world's largest electronic maker, has 26 percent of the global market for display TVs. They hope to increase their profitability with the increased production capacity.

Matsushita also plans to open a smaller plasma panel factory in Singapore in 2007.

Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, created a stir in Tokyo when he commented the U.S. government would probably step in to assist General Motors Corporation, which is losing market share and struggling financially. Mr. Okuda spoke as head of the Japan Business Federation, Japan's biggest lobby.

"General Motors is in a tough condition because they do not make competitive cars," he noted. "The U.S. government will probably step in to support the world's number one auto manufacturer if it tumbles into real difficulty. This is a national economic emergency. The U.S. government will not let it fall. G.M. is an industry icon."

Several automotive and business publications have reported Toyota is expected to overtake G.M. as the world's biggest auto manufacturer in the next year or two.

Nippon Steel Corporation, J.F.E. Steel Corporation and four other Japanese companies plan to supply steel pipes to Saudi Aramco. The companies will supply about 200,000 tons of pipes to carry oil products for the next five years. The deal is worth nearly $217 million.

Mitsukoshi, an upscale Japanese department store chain, will open a store in Beijing this year -the first Japanese department store in China's capital. Mitsukoshi wants to make sure it is operating before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

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