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05/05/95

CONTACT: Stanford University News Service (415) 723-2558

New Internet window on Japan officially opens

STANFORD -- Surfers on the Internet who are interested in Japanese technology, science, business, industry, government and culture now can access a new source of information about these subjects from their computers at work, school or home. Using the latest Internet interface, the World Wide Web (WWW), they can get electronically both text and graphics that have been available previously only in printed form, often only in Japan.

The new not-for-profit, no-fee public service, called Japan Window, officially went on line March 1. The project is a research collaboration between Stanford University's US-Japan Technology Management Center and the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) Software Laboratories. NTT announced the debut of the service in a press release from Tokyo at the end of April.

Japan Window's primary target audience is American users and organizations including high-technology industry; government, corporate and university researchers; business and tourist travelers to Japan; students and educators; Japan societies in communities around the United States; and U.S. government agencies. Its developers also expect Japanese organizations to be heavy users of the new Web site. Information is provided in both English and Japanese.

The service will include specific information in six different categories:

  • Living and Travel includes practical and useful information for foreigners who plan to visit Japan.
  • Japanese Government covers not only central government agencies but also prefectural and local governments.
  • Science and Technology includes Japanese manufacturing, environmental and energy technologies, micromachine research, telecommunications and computer networking.
  • Business, Economics and Finance contains news features, economic forecasts and information about Japanese companies.
  • Kid's Window provides a bridge between children in American and Japan.
  • Daily News and Updates provides current and timely information from original and secondary sources.

In addition to providing a new online source of information via computer, the U.S.-Japan university-industry research project also will make the information easier to find and use. One of the major innovations is the Japan Events Calendar. It allows users to search for events by key word and allows members of the general public to add items about related activities such as conferences, seminars and cultural events.

The idea for Japan Window came when graduate student founders Burton Lee and Mike Bayle at the US-Japan Technology Management Center began playing with the Web. "It is a good example of student entrepreneurship," said James S. Harris, the James and Ellenor Chesebrough Professor of Electrical Engineering, who is the project's principal investigator.

Despite its humble beginnings, the project soon attracted some high-level backers. A visiting NTT scientist who was working on a Web home page for his company heard about the student's efforts and started an informal collaboration. Then the project was adopted by Smart Valley Inc., the high-powered coalition that is sponsoring a number of projects designed to revitalize Silicon Valley.

"This is a different kind of project from our other efforts, which are targeted at the valley. This is the first of several projects that I like to call 'bridge projects' that are designed to reach out to other parts of the world," said Harry J. Saal, Smart Valley's president and chief executive officer.

Regis McKenna, the well-known high tech public relations agent who acts as an adviser to the project, said he likes the basic idea because he hopes it will help break down the cultural barriers that divide the two countries. "Right now, the United States and Japan are having a hard time figuring out if they are partners or enemies. There is a kind of psychological trade war going on," he said. "As the net begins to open up communications between the two cultures, and allows people to collaborate and work together, it should allow them to get to know each other better and break down the 'strangeness barrier' that currently divides our two countries."

Stanford and NTT will present a paper updating the project's progress to the international networking community at the INET 95 conference in Hawaii in June.

Japan Window is accessible at two World Wide Web addresses: http://jw.stanford.edu and http://jw.nttam.com. For more information about the project, contact Stanford's US-Japan Technology Management Center at its World Wide Web address (http://fuji.stanford.edu), or Burton Lee, the Stanford-USA project manager, at (415) 725-9969 or via e-mail at blee@fuji.stanford.edu.

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