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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Japanese Government Looks To Develop Own Search Engine

Japan will look into launching its own Internet search engine, a government official said Monday, signaling the country's interest in a market dominated by powerhouses Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will kick off a study group consisting of about 20 Japanese electronics companies and universities on Internet search engines, said Fumihiro Kajikawa, a ministry official in charge of information policies.

The group will hold the first meeting Friday and plans to put together an interim report by March and a final report by July, he said.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., NTT Corp. and Tokyo University are among the participants, according to Kajikawa. Electronics makers Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC will also join.

"The group will look into issues including whether Japan will start its own search engine," he said.

The group plans to look into developing a search engine for pictures, the official added.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper reported Monday that the government plans to spend several billions of yen (tens of millions of dollars and euros) for a three-to-five year project to develop a search engine beginning in fiscal 2007. Japan's fiscal year starts in April.

The report said that Japan wants to come up with its own version of search engine to catch up with the American companies that receive high profits from online ad revenues.

Kajikawa could not confirm the report.

"It is not that we want to play against (Google and Yahoo). We are thinking of something that's unique to Japan," he said.

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