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Softbank, Healtheon/WebMD to Produce Japanese Med Site

Softbank Publishing Inc. and Healtheon/WebMD Inc. Wednesday unveiled plans to develop a Japanese version of the popular U.S. health site.

WebMD Japan K.K. will be a joint venture offering physicians and consumers medical information via the Internet, and is expected to start by the middle of next year.

The site will reportedly be a 60-40 venture with Softbank Publishing holding the majority stake, and the company will be capitalized with 300 million yen.

The Japanese site will provide Healtheon/WebMD's proprietary content as well as Japanese medical news.

The medical site is the latest of many American Internet services which Softbank has translated and remolded to fit the Japanese market. The Japanese Internet heavyweight has brought in famous names to create local sites such as Yahoo! Japan, E*TRADE Japan and Microsoft's CarPoint. A Japanese Nasdaq is also in the works.