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Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, UFJ NICOS, DC Card: Contactless VISA Cards Launched in Japan
NYK Logistics: Taking Sensors to the Next Degree
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation: Thai Auto Show is Doubly Rewarding
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI): Revolutionizing Microdevice Manufacturing
Astomos Energy Corporation: A "Bright and Reliable Friend" Joins Mitsubishi


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In Japan, seeing shoppers make small purchases by waving a prepaid or credit card with an integrated circuit (IC) above a sensor is becoming a common sight, particularly for use in public transportation. Sales of Osaifu-Keitai, mobile phones that have the contactless payment circuits built into the handsets, are also increasing as mobile phone operators market these models as their main product.

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Making a purchase with a wave of a phone

  To establish a firm presence in this growing market, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, along with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, UFJ NICOS and DC Card, teamed up with VISA International to expand Keitai Credit, a contactless payment method that uses the contactless IC credit card payment scheme Smartplus developed by UFJ NICOS. The new VISA-adapted service was announced in May 2006.
  UFJ NICOS, a member of MUFG, launched Smartplus in December 2004. As the scheme was designed to make maximal use of existing credit card infrastructure, such as issuing systems, terminals and processing networks, for merchants and credit card companies, the impact of developing systems and operations is very low.
  In launching the new VISA Smartplus scheme, MUFG provided VISA with the necessary technology, while VISA agreed to promote the platform to all its members in Japan.
  By 2008, the companies estimate the number of Smartplus members to rise to two million, with an estimated 100,000 shops accepting the card.


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Japanese poster for temperature-sensing container tags

Transporting or storing sensitive goods such as medicines, chemicals, precision equipment or food is tricky, for they often require that temperatures be strictly monitored. But a new temperature-sensing container tag from NYK Logistics (Japan) makes things easier. After attaching a small reader to the outside of a container, the tag's integrated circuit (IC) accurately monitors and records the temperature inside the container, the information being wirelessly transmitted even through thick insulation. Moreover, the IC tag is waterproof and durable, does not require any power supply, and can be attached to any container. It also transmits on a frequency that is not susceptible to moisture interference.
  The IC tag, developed jointly with Oki Electric Industry and the HILLS Corporation, is the first of its kind in the world. NYK Logistics (Japan) and its co-developers expect the product to be highly popular with manufacturers, distributors and logistics companies. The three companies estimate sales of some one million tags by 2008.
  Before the IC tags become commercially available, they will be sent to a few select companies for pilot studies. During this phase, NYK Logistics (Japan) will work with NYK's other logistics companies to build opportunities for IC-tag use in global transportation and storage. Oki Electric Industry will supply the tags, and the HILLS Corporation will prepare the temperature-controlled containers.

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At the 27th Bangkok International Motor Show, held in March, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation's Triton pickup truck and Space Wagon (Japan market name "Grandis") minivan both took home prizes in the Thai Car of the Year Awards. Triton won awards for the "Best Realistic Fuel Economy Pickup Truck, 2.5 L Engine Class," and the "Best Pickup Truck, Double Cab 4WD Class." Meanwhile, the Space Wagon, regarded as a next-generation minivan that suits a variety of modern lifestyles, drove away with the "Best MPV" (multipurpose vehicle) award. This was the second year running it earned this award.

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Triton PickupTruck
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Space Wagon ("Grandis" in Japan)

  The popular Triton pickup has won consumer favor for its sedan-like ride, its distinctive exterior and interior, and a powerful, newly developed diesel engine that uses common rail direct-injection technology. It earned top honors in the "Best Realistic Fuel Economy" category based on fuel consumption under actual driving conditions in Thailand.

 

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High-speed, room-temperature wafer bonding equipment

In microdevice manufacturing, production speed, cost and yield are key elements. Now, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has developed and readied for market a new high-speed wafer bonder that works at room temperature to vastly improve the quality and productivity of MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) manufacturing. The few-millimeter-sized MEMS devices are used in various consumer products, ranging from cellular phones to automobile sensors.
  In manufacturing, MEMS devices are usually developed on device wafers and are packaged by bonding with sealing wafers—wafer-level packaging—then sliced into individual MEMS chips. In the conventional method of wafer-level packaging, these wafers that include silicon and other materials must be heated to bond, and therefore the process requires heating and cooling period and affects yield due to damage caused by heat.
  The new system of MHI, which is the first ever to offer volume production at room temperature, will both reduce cost and boost the production of MEMS chips, allowing for a strong, reliable stress-free bonding. By eliminating the need for heating and cooling, and automating the production process, wafers can be produced in just twenty minutes, a ten-fold improvement in production speed over past systems. By lowering the cost of making MEMS chips, and the next generation 3-dimensionally integrated chips, this production breakthrough paves the way for consumer and industrial electronics that are both cheaper and of higher performance.

 

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The new company, Astomos Energy, delivers liquid petroleum gas to Japan

Mitsubishi has a long tradition of responding to developing social and industrial needs by adopting new lines of business. Astomos Energy Corporation, founded April 1, 2006, has become the newest member of the Mitsubishi companies. Astomos Energy supplies 20% of Japan's demand for LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), making it the largest domestic gas provider. Focusing attention on benefiting lifestyles and providing solutions for both social and environmental issues, the company will strive to meet the expectations of consumers while contributing to the development of a national energy policy.
  Astomos Energy was created as the successor to Mitsubishi Corporation's LPG operations spin-off, Mitsubishi Liquefied Petroleum Gas Co., Ltd., and includes the merger of Idemitsu Gas and Life, Co., Ltd. The completely new company will integrate the LPG operations of Mitsubishi and Idemitsu in the areas of import, trading, international transport and domestic sales. It will take advantage of an expanded scale and resulting synergies to improve competitiveness in all respects. The company's name is the combination of two phrases in Japanese that mean "to light the way" and "reliable friendship." Astomos Energy means to light the way to the future for customers and dealers with stable supplies of environment-friendly LPG and next-generation energy.

 

Asahi Glass to Expand Recombinant Protein Production
In October 2006, Asahi Glass will begin constructing a new plant in Chiba Prefecture for production of recombinant proteins. The new plant, scheduled to start commercial operation in July 2008, will be ten times as large as the company's current production facility in Kanagawa Prefecture, and hold a massive 3,000-liter jar fermenter. It will be one of the largest such facilities operated by a Japanese contract manufacturer of biopharmaceutical products.

   Through this expansion, Asahi Glass aims to strengthen its contract manufacturing business for active biopharmaceutical ingredients. The new facility, which will employ the company's proprietary production system ASPEX, and other microbial base expression systems, will be able to offer services to clients at any stage of recombinant protein production, from initial strain construction to mass production.

Mitsubishi Paper Mills to Manufacture Optical Filters for Plasma TVs

Mitsubishi Paper Mills, working together with Fujimori Kogyo and FCM Corporation, has developed a new optical filter for plasma TVs, and will now launch full-scale manufacturing of the product.

   The filters, developed jointly by Mitsubishi and Fujimori, use electromagnetic shielding film and optical substrates to block the electromagnetic emissions that are characteristic of plasma TVs. The filters also block unwanted portions of the light spectrum, such as infrared rays.

   The manufacturing process combines Mitsubishi Paper's silver-halide manufacturing technology with FCM's roll-forming capabilities, which enable the world's first volume manufacturing of detailed pattern plating on a broad and thin substrate. Finally, Fujimori Kogyo's precise coating technology is used in the design and production of the optical materials.

Mitsubishi Chemical Expands Polycarbonate Manufacturing Capabilities

To serve growing global demand for Polycarbonate (PC) resins, Mitsubishi Chemical will increase annual production of PC resins and Diphenyl carbonate (DPC) at its Kurosaki plant by 60,000 tons and 100,000 tons, respectively. Construction of additional facilities is scheduled for completion in March 2008. Moreover, at the end of 2005, the company reached a basic agreement with the Chinese petrochemicals giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation to conduct a feasibility study of establishing a new company to manufacture PC resin and Bisphenol A. Discussions are now under way to have that project up and running by 2008 as well.

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