Computer woes continue for the world's largest bank and a French telecom firm buys the rights to one of Japan's hottest technologies.

NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile phone company, will license its highly successful I-mode technology to Bouygues Telecom of France. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

France is the fourth European nation where I-mode will be available. Cell phone companies in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are also offering the service, which is used by one out of every four people in Japan.

I-mode generates e-mail, video games and other internet-related services on mobile phone handsets.

Keiji Tachikawa, the president of NTT DoCoMo, tells reporters that the company is considering other deals in Asia and Europe. He says he hopes to make further overseas investments even though the company has racked up big losses through recent acquisitions.

In the computer industry, IBM, the world's top computer maker and Japan's Hitachi plan to combine their hard disk divisions later this year. They will also jointly develop data storage systems.

The two companies hope the joint venture will allow them to compete with the leading data storage equipment maker, EMC of the United States. They estimate annual revenue of about $4.5 billion.

Japan's financial watchdog says it will launch an inspection of a series of computer glitches at Mizuho Holdings, the world's largest bank in terms of assets. The probe will start early next month.

For nearly three weeks, the group has been struggling with a series of computer problems with automatic teller machines and settlement transactions. The problems, which have affected millions of customers, started on the first of April when Mizuho was formed by the merger of three big Japanese banks.

Yoshiro Yamamoto, a special adviser to Mizuho Holdings, told reporters that responsibility for the computer glitch lies with himself and the two other men who oversaw the merger.

Mizuho has denied a media report that a series of technical glitches may force it to delay the full integration of its computer systems.