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Toray Industries Wins Contract with Boeing

Japan's Toray Industries will supply Boeing with carbon fiber and IKEA opens its first store in Japan. Catherine Makino has these stories and more in our weekly look at business news in Japan.

Toray to Supply Boeing with Carbon Fiber

Toray Industries was awarded a contract with Boeing worth $4 million. Toray will supply the American aircraft company, which is the world's leading aerospace company, with carbon fiber material for its new midsize aircraft through 2021.

The new contract brings Toray's outstanding orders from Boeing to $6 billion over 16 years. Toray's carbon fiber division has reached record profitability, and in 2005 had a 32 percent share of the world market.

IKEA Opens Store in Tokyo

Japanese consumers anxiously waited outside for Sweden's furniture retailer IKEA to open its new store in a Tokyo suburb. The store, IKEA's only one in Japan, has 40,000 square meters of showrooms offering consumers household products ranging from kitchenware to sofas.

IKEA first opened a store in Japan 20 years ago, but it failed. The company says Japanese homes are smaller than in other countries and this time around the furniture will be displayed in smaller configurations to "provide solutions for small space living." IKEA will not be selling any king-sized beds or dining tables for 12 in Japan.

Anders Dahlvig, president of IKEA, told reporters in Japan that the company did extensive research to prepare for this store. The vast complex includes the largest restaurant in Tokyo, and in many ways it is almost a recreational outlet, not just a furniture store. “I think maybe one of our biggest competitor here is Disneyland, rather than some other furniture companies," said Dahlvig.

Over the next five years IKEA plans to open four to six more stores in Japan. There are 230 IKEA stores in 33 countries.

Sharp Rises to the Top of the Heap

Japan's Sharp Company beat out 10 competitors to become the country's top maker of mobile phones for the first time.

The electrical products company said consumers like its high-quality phone screens and easy-to-use camera functions.

Sharp supplies phones to Japanese telecommunications giant NTT DoCoMo and will begin supplying KDDI, Japan's second largest mobile phone provider.

Yorozu Company, a Japanese car parts manufacturer, threatened to stop its shipment to General Motors in the United States because of a payment dispute. Yorozu alleges G.M. owes it $3.7 million and alleges GM attempted to "impose unilateral price reductions."