Japanese turn for MySpace with Softbank

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NEW YORK -- MySpace made its expected move into Japan official Tuesday, unveiling a 50-50 joint venture with Softbank Corp. to launch MySpace Japan.

It is the News Corp. social networking site's first foray into the Asian market (HR 11/7). The company also has entered other foreign territories as of late, mainly in Europe, with News Corp. executives saying it also is eyeing a move into China.

"The launch of a Japanese community is a huge step for MySpace's international expansion," said Chris DeWolfe, CEO of MySpace and board member of MySpace KK. "We're responding to user demand by creating a community that is localized in terms of language and culture while connecting members to the rest of MySpace's global network."

The Japanese operation will host its first Secret Show on Nov. 15, with Noel Gallagher and Gem of Oasis set to make a semi-acoustic musical performance exclusively for local MySpace users.

"Softbank is proud to partner with MySpace to launch this exciting new venture," Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said. "We are confident the Japanese community will take to MySpace just as passionately as millions of others around the world."

Ross Levinsohn, president of News Corp. unit Fox Interactive Media, which houses MySpace, said, "Softbank is not only Japan's No. 1 company in terms of broadband services but a critical link to ensure we reflect and respect Japanese culture."

Based in Tokyo, MySpace Japan will run largely as a separate company, with MySpace U.S. teams playing significant roles, the company said.

Makoto Kouyama will function as CEO of MySpace Japan and will sit on its board along with News Corp. president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin, DeWolfe and Son, among others.

The beta version of MySpace Japan launched Tuesday, with a fully operational version of the community expected in the coming months.
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