Japan to develop Google rival

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Japan to develop Google rival

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is to set aside between ¥14m and ¥15m (around £60m) to research new online search technologies in an attempt to wrest some control away from search giants such as Google.

The project consists of 10 partnerships between Japanese technology companies, each with a different area of research focus.

Scientists from NTT Data, Toyota InfoTechnology Centre and Toyota Mapmaster, for instance, will team up to develop a more personalised car navigation system.

"The question is how Japanese companies like Sharp and Panasonic can be encouraged to provide services," said Toshihide Yahiro, director of the information service industry division at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

"They clearly have the know-how to build things, and the key to Japan's competitiveness has been our core technology. But we need to create a new value-added service that is personalised."

The move comes after the Japanese government expressed concern that the country's traditional lead in consumer electronics had been eroded by South Korean and Taiwanese electronics companies.

The ministers have also expressed concerns about the overwhelming influence of international companies like Google, and hopes that the investment will help allay fears that the country is falling behind in innovation.

This is not the first time that governments have stepped in to try and tackle the search giant's influence.

The French and German governments launched a similar programme early last year to build the Quaero search engine. Quaero is Latin for 'I search'.

France set up the Agency for Industrial Innovation to help develop the software, but Germany later pulled out of the project.
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