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Companies Announce Merger, Strategic Alliance in Japan

Two of Japan's biggest airlines have unveiled a plan to merge and the country's top mobile phone firm has announced a strategic alliance with the world's largest phone maker.

Japan Airlines, the country's top carrier, says it will integrate its operations with Japan Air System to create the sixth biggest global airline. The move, the first major overhaul in the Japanese airline industry in 30 years, follows the sharp decline in sales after the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. The merger allows the two companies to corner half the domestic market.

Hiromi Funabiki is president of Japan Air System. He told reporters that a merger will combine JAL's strength in international flights with the domestic position of JAS. Mr. Funabiki says "the consolidation will make it possible for both companies to be more efficient."

But the merger also will lead to 5,000 job cuts from the two companies over the next five years.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top cell phone operator, says it will ally with the world's largest mobile phone maker, Nokia of Finland. They will jointly standardize technologies for third generation phone services so that users around the globe with different handsets can access the same information. The two firms say they will work on browsing, messaging and other software.

Keiji Tachikawa is president and chief executive of DoCoMo. He hopes to have a Nokia product in the Japanese market next year. "We can not promote the spread of worldwide service if we do not jointly develop and use the same product," he said.

Mazda, the country's fifth largest auto maker, posted a net profit of nearly $11 million in the first six months of the year, in contrast to the losses during the same period last year. The firm says cost cutting measures and the weaker yen helped its earnings. Mazda predicts a profit for the full fiscal year ending in March.