Typhoon dampens Ceatec's first day

An approaching typhoon dampened attendance at the opening day of Ceatec 2002, the largest electronic show of the year in Japan, according to organizers.

The typhoon was heading directly for the Tokyo metropolitan area during the day and packed winds of over 50 meters per second and has been labeled one of the strongest to hit the capital since the end of World War II.

It caused rail services and flights to be cancelled before it arrived and is thought to have deterred many people from making the 30-minute journey from Tokyo to the exhibition, which is being held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba prefecture. It passed over the area late in the evening.

The typhoon did not deter Crown Prince Naruhito from attending the show in the morning, the first time a member of Japan's royal family has attended the exhibition.

During his hour-long visit, the Prince visited the booths of several major consumer electronics companies including Sony Corp., where he watched a demonstration of the company's Grating Light Valve display technology; Mitsubishi Electric Corp., where he got to sit in a design prototype car of the future; and national broadcaster Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), where he was shown the latest in high-definition digital broadcasting. He also visited the booths of NEC Corp. and wireless carriers KDDI Corp. and NTT DoCoMo Inc.

The visit grew out of a request by the Prince to attend Ceatec last year although was delayed a year because of insufficient time to organize the visit, said organizers.

Elsewhere, the exhibition provided the first large-scale public venue for the demonstration of several new technologies including high-capacity optical disc video recorders based on blue-laser diodes. Several members of the Blu-ray consortium demonstrated prototypes of their new format while Toshiba Corp. was showing off an early prototype of its competing system.

Prototypes of several other new technologies were also on display including new cellular telephones, displays, home networking systems and digital still cameras.

The organizers hope passage of the typhoon, which is forecast to be north of Tokyo by Wednesday morning, and publicity of the Prince's visit will push attendance on subsequent days.

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Martyn Williams

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