Japan may create its own search engine

A consortium of tech companies and universities will consider whether Japan should take on today's search powerhouses

Japan is limbering up to challenging the might of Google and Yahoo by developing its own search engine.

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has organised a study group consisting of about 20 Japanese electronics companies — including Hitachi and Panasonic — and universities, which will consider the merits of creating a search tool specifically for the country's Web users.

"The group will look into issues including whether Japan will start its own search engine," said Fumihiro Kajikawa, a ministry official in charge of information policies. According to reports, the Japanese government is considering spending up to £500m on the plan, as part of its drive to become a more dominant online player.

Japan's Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, has previously said that the country needs to extend its influence in the IT space.

According to The Times, £60m has already been earmarked for the plan, which could start in early 2007.

Several government, particularly those where English is not the primary language, have shown concern about the dominance that American countries have over the IT space and the Internet. Search Engine Watch reported this summer that French President Jacques Chirac had pledged funding for a new European search engine. France has also teamed up with China to develop an open source software product.

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