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Japanese Firms to Develop Advanced Car Communication System - 2002-02-22


A major Japanese auto-maker and a telecommunications firm have unveiled a plan to jointly develop an advanced car communication system. VOA's Amy Bickers has that and more in our weekly look at Japanese business headlines.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile phone operator and Nissan, the country's third largest auto-maker say they will team up to develop advanced multimedia services for cars, known as telematics. The system will offer road-related information such as where to find local restaurants and the best price for gasoline. It will also include emergency assistance and communication services.

Under the deal, the information system will utilize DoCoMo's third-generation cell phone technology. It will be available in Nissan cars next year.

Keiji Tachikawa, DoCoMo's chief executive, says the companies expect this feature to figure prominently in 21st century cars. He says we are focusing on developing information technology for all kinds of things that move.

Japan's Asahi Breweries became the nation's top beer maker in 2001. It outsold its rival Kirin for the first time in nearly 50 years. Asahi's annual profits rose two percent to more than 580 million dollars. It credits its financial upswing to a successful foray into the cheaper, low-malt beverage market.

Kirin plans to rise to meet the new challenger. Yoshikazu Arai, Kirin's managing director, told reporters that the firm failed to meet customers' expectations and will try to regain the top spot.

Nine of the world's leading electronics makers, including Sony, Matsushita and three other Japanese firms, have agreed on a uniform standard for the next generation of digital video discs. Today's DVD recorders use different and often incompatible formats.

Next week, the Japanese government will announce its jobless data for January. Unemployment already stands at a record high of 5.6 percent.

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