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Joining Forces With Japan Japan's economy is picking up. Should your company explore the possibilities?

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When Yeogirl Yun went to Asia to scout for business opportunities earlier this year, he settled on an emerging market: Japan.

Yun's Mountain View, California, search-engine company,, which has more than 40 employees, entered a joint venture with Japanese firm Transcosmos Corp. in May 2005 and launched Become Japan in April 2006. It's Become's first entry into a foreign market, and there's potential: Thirty percent of all Japanese direct marketing sales happen online, according to the Japan Direct Marketing Association. "It was natural for us to move into the Japanese market," says Yun, 36. "Japan is a very lucrative market."

It's certainly more lucrative than it's been in a long time. Japan's unemployment rate is falling as wages rise, and the Japanese are spending more on foreign brands. The yen is climbing--a sign that Japan, the world's second-largest economy, is under-going an economic expansion that could be the biggest since America's during World War II. "The environment has really changed a lot over 10 years," says Jim Fatheree, president of the U.S.-Japan Business Council, a Washington, DC, organization working to ease regulations on U.S. companies doing business in Japan. "It's a much better and easier place to do business."

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