• Kyodo News

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Japanese computer makers are racing to meet China’s new requirement that all new PCs come loaded with government-designated filtering software from July 1.

The government-designated software blocks access to specified Web sites. Beijing says it is aimed at keeping children from viewing pornography, but rights activists argue it could easily be used to block any type of content.

With the global economic slump denting demand for PCs in the U.S. and European markets, China is a promising market where Japanese manufacturers anticipate robust sales.

Makers such as Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp. are hurrying to meet the deadline, but even though there is less than one month until the requirement takes effect, they have limited information about the software.

Their rivals in China are already churning out PCs preinstalled with the software, industry officials said.

“It is easy to install the software in PCs,” an official at a manufacturer in Japan said. “But it will take almost a month to make sure our PCs do not have any bugs.”

Tokyo is looking for further details of China’s new requirement and trying to gauge the impact of the policy, including whether violators will be punished.

“At present, we don’t think it will become a trade barrier” because the policy is not directed at products made in a specific country, said an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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