• Kyodo News

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Internet firm Softbank Corp. and U.S. media giant News Corp. will start a Japanese version of MySpace, the world’s most popular social networking Web site, sources said Monday.

Softbank and News Corp., which has the operator of MySpace under its wing, will set up a 50-50 joint venture this month for the Japanese version of the service, the sources said, adding the new company’s capital is estimated at 1 billion yen. The starting date of the service has yet to be decided, the sources said.

Softbank currently provides a social networking service through group company Yahoo Japan Corp.

Reflecting growing popularity in Japan and overseas for the service, in which registered members can exchange information via Web sites, Softbank has decided to be involved in the business more directly, the sources said.

The launch of the Japanese version of MySpace is expected to intensify competition with rivals, including Mixi Inc., which operates Japan’s current most popular social networking Web site, and Rakuten Inc.

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