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Japan's Island Of Prosperity

The Japanese island of Kyushu could be an island of prosperity in Japan's troubled economic waters.

The southernmost island in the Japanese archipelago, Kyushu is home to 19 semiconductor plants and some 350 supporting firms. Japan's NEC Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Co. have factories there, as does Texas Instruments.

Together, Kyushu's tech companies generate $14 billion in sales, or 8 percent of the island's manufacturing economy. The area is the source of almost one-third of the microchips made in Japan.

Why Kyushu? Because of the island's clear, clean water, which the companies need for silicon chip production.

Businesses that cater to chipmakers soon followed, although Japan's economy has stumbled through most of the decade, only to slip this year into the deepest recession in the country's postwar history.

So local governments have been eager to attract high-tech firms in the hopes of hatching their own scaled-down Silicon Valleys.

One example, in the central part of the country, is called "Softopia Japan." The regional government put up $350 million to build a glitzy office park dedicated to computer-related firms in Ohgaki, a city of 150,000.

Since it opened in 1996, nineteen companies, including divisions of Fujitsu and NEC, have set up shop nearby. Fifty-four smaller firms rent offices in a central building run by the government.

More Destinations on Digital Planet
Silicon Valley, Calif.Seattle, Washington
Boston, MassachusettsAustin, Texas
New York, New YorkDublin, Ireland
Cambridge, EnglandSophia Antipolis, France
Oulu Technopolis, FinlandHaifa, Israel
Bangalore, IndiaZhongguancun, China
Kyushu Island, JapanTaipei, Taiwan
SingaporeKuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Written By Todd Zaun, Associated Press

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