JIN-180 -- Open Source Free-for-All

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
T H E J @ P A N I N C N E W S L E T T E R
Commentary on the Week's Business and Technology News
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Issue No. 180
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Tokyo

CONTENTS

++ Viewpoint: Open Source Free-for-All

++ Noteworthy News
- AIG to Enter Securities Business in Japan
- Government Pressures Softbank on Selling Aozora Shares
- Tokyo Plans Wireless LANs in Libraries, Public Space

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++ VIEWPOINT: Open Source Free-for-All

Japan's Big Four mainframe vendors -- Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM and NEC
-- agreed a year ago this month to work together to enhance Linux
enterprise capabilities. This blue-chip backing for an open source
system has created a ripple effect through Japan's open source
community. "While there once may have been worries about Linux's
stability, these have largely evaporated in the face of blue-chip
company adoptions," Gen Narui, chairman of the Japan Linux
Professional Institute, tells contributing editor Sam Joseph in the
June issue of J@pan Inc magazine.

Joseph takes us deep into the world of open source software in his
feature "Open Source Free-for-All." He shows that while the Big Four
Consortium may be putting its might behind open source systems, not
all Japanese enterprises have been won over. "In Japan, 'if it's not
broken, don't fix it' makes a lot of sense to many decision makers,"
says Chris Phelan, CEO of Vanten, an open source solutions provider
in Tokyo's Asakusa district.

But just what sort of role will Japan's engineers play in the
development of open source systems? Surprisingly, many of the leading
engineers say "not much." Yukihiro Matsumoto, developer of Japan's
only open source programming language, Ruby, tells Joseph, "Software
is the specialty of the West." Narui disagrees. He sees demand for
Linux engineers booming in Japan in the near future. Who's right?
Check out Joseph's article in the next issue of J@pan Inc magazine,
available in bookstores from May 25, and make your own decision.

-- Bruce Rutledge

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++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS
(Long URLs may break across two lines, so copy to your browser.)

** AIG to Enter Securities Business in Japan

Extract: American International Group (AIG), the US-based insurance
company, plans to enter the securities business in Japan later this
month. It will target institutional investors, the company said. AIG
is the largest foreign insurer in Japan in terms of capitalization.

The announcement comes at a time when many foreign brokerages --
including big names like Merrill Lynch, Charles Schwab, Morgan
Stanley and ABN Amro -- are scaling back their Japan operations or
pulling out altogether.

Commentary: The Nikkei Shimbun, Japan's leading business daily,
quoted an AIG executive as saying that "this is a good time to invest
in the Japanese market." Many companies that have claimed to see the
bottom of this recession have already closed up and gone home. AIG
joins a new group of investors that includes Martha Stewart and
Wal-Mart, among others, who think that NOW is the time to invest
here. Time will tell.

Source:
http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/reuters/nt133275.html

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** Government Pressures Softbank on Selling Aozora Shares

Extract: Hakuo Yanagisawa, Japan's minister of financial services,
said on Tuesday that he assumes financially troubled Softbank will
not sell its shares of Aozora Bank until at least 2003, the Nikkei
Shimbun reported.

Softbank purchased 48.99 percent of the shares in Aozora Bank
(formerly Nippon Credit Bank) from the government in September 2000.
Shoji Mori, director general of the Financial Services Agency, said
on Monday that SoftBank agreed in writing to hang onto the stock for
the long-term when the company purchased the shares. The Japanese
media has reported that Softbank is considering selling some of the
bank's shares to overcome financial difficulties.

A spokesman at Aozora Bank said that it is ultimately Softbank's
decision whether to sell its shares, and that the bank is not in a
position to comment on the issue.

Source:
Nikkei Shimbun May 14, 2002

=============================ANNOUNCEMENT=============================

The latest issue of J@pan Inc magazine is now available online!
Access: http://www.japaninc.com/contents.php?issueID=36

Subscribers can read our hot-off-the-press features, including:

** Okinawa: A troubled island has visions of IT paradise

** Running On Empty: Gregory Clark, president of Tama University,
says prime minister Junichiro Koizumi spends too much time tinkering
with supply when it's demand that is the problem.

** The Final Showdown: Digital technology is rapidly replacing
traditional film in the movies -- a move that has serious
implications for both the nature of film production and its
financing.

J@pan Inc: http://www.japaninc.com
Subscribe at: http://www.japaninc.com/mag/subs.html
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** Tokyo Plans Wireless LANs in Libraries, Public Space

Extract: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is looking for companies
to help it create wireless LAN hotspots in its libraries and other
public spaces. The city government says it would like to hear from
interested companies by May 21, then begin testing systems in June.
The tests would last three months.

The government says it is looking to work with several companies to
set up the wireless LANS. Its only request: The LANs in the libraries
should be free and open to the public.

Source (in Japanese):
http://www.zdnet.co.jp/broadband/0205/13/tocho.html

"Wireless Hotspots" from April 2002 issue (password protected)
http://www.japaninc.net/inc/login.html?articleID=761

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STAFF
Written by Bruce Rutledge (bruce@japaninc.com)
and Sumie Kawakami (sumie@japaninc.com)
Edited by J Mark Lytle (mark@japaninc.com)

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