In this week's Japanese business headlines, companies in the computer and auto industries have unveiled alliances with their American counterparts.
NEC, Japan's largest computer maker, and Microsoft of the United States have unveiled a plan to jointly develop computer products and services. Together they will integrate systems, expand Internet services and build servers.
Under the deal, Microsoft will contribute software products while NEC will provide hardware. The two companies say they aim to improve the reliability of their systems. The deal comes as NEC is trying to recover from a dramatic worldwide decline in demand for personal computers.
Carmakers around the globe are trying to build vehicles that produce less pollution. Japan's Suzuki Motor and the world's biggest automaker, General Motors of the United States, are strengthening their existing partnership in this area. The two firms say they will spend $50 million in the next three years to develop environmentally friendly cars powered by fuel cells that use hydrogen to produce electricity and that produce no toxic pollutants.
Byron McCormick, a director of General Motors, told reporters that the joint effort is crucial since research and development is costly. "Suzuki has some wonderful small vehicles. As we think about bringing hydrogen vehicles to the world, it is very natural that we (General Motors) and Suzuki would develop a very deep partnership on fuel cells," McCormick said.
Also in the auto sector, carmaker Nissan is predicting record profit of $1.5 billion for the six months ended in September. That is a 40 percent improvement over the same period in the previous year. The company's president, Carlos Ghosn, says that Nissan's sweeping restructuring program and favorable exchange rates have helped earnings.
At a Tokyo news conference, Mr. Ghosn discussed rumors that Nissan plans to deepen its ties with French carmaker Renault, which owns 36 percent of the company. "I do not deny it. It may be soon. It may happen much sooner, thanks to the effort that Nissan has developed," Ghosn said.
Industry sources say the two car makers are planning to set up a joint firm in 2002 with Renault raising its current stake in Nissan.