Some GPS-related news. The Japanese government – with the the assistance of private firms – is ramping up research on a Japanese version of the Global Positioning System in a bid to turn satellite-based technologies into a key export, the Nikkei reports.

Plans are afoot to conduct joint reserach and development on this – nine firms and two organisations are slated to participate in a study group to be formed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at the end of the month, with an aim to come up with new services in five years, the report says.

The venture will include companies such as NEC and Mitsubishi Electric Corp, which develop satellites or ground facilities, as well as those with a broad range of businesses, including transport systems, logistics and machinery.

Having launched a quasi-zenith positioning satellite last September, the addition of two or three more satellites will enable an around-the-clock service, though specific plans for the second satellite haven’t been drawn up yet. The Japanese satellite system is designed to supplement the GPS currently operated by the US, and is meant to cover the region, including that of Southeast Asia and Australia.

A domestic GPS would yield many benefits beyond just making and launching satellites – with a projection that the overall market will grow from around four trillion yen in 2008 to roughly 10 trillion yen in 2013, a wide range of infrastructure-related fields will stand to grow as well.