Both the AP and Agence France Press report that Japan's government is asking both the business and education/research sectors if the country should develop its own search engine technology and a service that's "unique to Japan" to compete with AJ Japan, Google Japan, Yahoo Japan, and others.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will convene a study group consisting about 20 Japanese electronics companies and universities on Internet search engines, said Fumihiro Kajikawa, a ministry official in charge of information policies...The Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper reported Monday that the government plans to spend tens of millions of dollars for a three-to five year project to develop a search engine beginning in fiscal 2007.
Btw, a very recent American entry into Japan's search market comes from Vivisimo. About three weeks ago we posted that a Japanese version of Clusty went live in late November. We also know that Ask Jeeves is currently testing their new blog search engine in Japan.
Postscript (from Danny): See also France To Fund European Search Engine; Replay Of Boeing-Airbus In The Search World? covering an earlier, similar concern that France sees in developing its own search industry.