DoCoMo users hit 60 million and that’s almost half Japans population

Though its growth has slowed significantly in recent years, DoCoMo managed to get more than 60 million Japanese to sign up for contracts as of last Sunday.Thats nearly half Japans population of 127 million.

The figure includes subscribers to DoCoMos LTE, 3G, and 2G mobile services.DoCoMos high growth period in the late 1990s saw it increasing by 10 million users in only 18 months. But recent years have proven more challenging for the phone giant.

It took more than six years to expand from 50 million subscribers to 60 million, reflecting market saturation. Total mobile subscribers in Japan number some 122 million.

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Nokia abandons Japan market

Nokia Corp., battered by the popularity of smartphones, is abandoning the Japanese market, after a brief foray with luxury cell phones costing as much as 20 million yen ($250,000).

The Finnish handset maker is closing by the end of July its last store selling high-end Vertu cell phones in Ginza. Previously, it had four such stores in Japan, according to Tomoko Morinari of Sunny Side Up, a Tokyo public relations company that has Nokia as its client.

She declined to say when the decision to leave Japan was made or how many Vertu phones Nokia had sold in Japan.

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Japan to offer subsidies for rare earths

Japan said Friday it would offer around 42 billion yen ($513 million) in subsidies designed to slash the nation’s reliance on Chinese rare-earth minerals by a third.

The ministry of economy, trade and industry will channel 33.1 billion yen into 160 private sector projects, while an additional 8.9 billion yen will be disbursed to other projects later this year, ministry officials said.

The recipients of the subsidies will use them to cover part of their investment in developing technologies to reduce rare-earth use, recycle the precious metals and develop alternative resources.

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KDDI to getting into e-book market

Japan’s number two telecom operator KDDI Corp. said Tuesday it would start electronic book distribution this week, offering an initial 20,000 titles for its e-reader.

The LISMO Book Store service will start on Saturday for the "biblio Leaf SP02" e-reader, focusing on novels, how-to guides and business books, the company said.

The release follows a head-to-head launch by Sony and Sharp earlier this month of devices they hope will battle the likes of Apple, Amazon and Samsung in the highly competitive e-book and tablet computer market.

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Self-Healing Paint for Cell Phones

Where was this technology last week when I dropped my poor little iPhone while trying to balance it on top of my Chinese takeout? The answer is not in sight! And well…Apple hasn’t discovered it, yet. That much I do know cause I still have the scars on my phone to prove it. For the rest of Japan and it’s multitudes of cellphones however there may be a cure to my balancing act insanity.

Automobile materials technology trickling down to the consumer products sector: About four years ago Nissan, working with researchers at the University of Tokyo and a company called Advanced Softmaterials Inc., quietly developed “Scratch Shield” paint, which “self-heals fine scratches and is capable of restoring the vehicle’s paint surfaces overnight or up to a week’s time in more severe cases.” Nissan has since been applying it to select models, like the 370Z and the Murano.

Other types of manufacturers have become interested, and now Japanese communications giant NTT DoCoMo has licensed Scratch Shield for their cell phones. As we dig them out of our pockets, purses and bags, mobiles probably take more of a daily beating than we’d allow our $40,000 sports cars to experience.

Alas, the spread of this materials technology is still in its nascent stages, so while Scratch Shield is available on cars as far from Japan as the UK, the self-healing paint will only appear on Japanese-market phones for now. That means no iPhone love for now. Shame.