Mozilla Attacks Japan!

Officials at the Mozilla Foundation announced the second offshoot of its growing open source project… this time with the creation of a non-profit organization in the country of Japan.

Mozilla Japan will work on localized versions of its product line: Firefox, Thunderbird and Mozilla 1.7 Internet suite. Made up of long-time Mozilla contributors of MozillaGumi (Gumi is Japanese for “group”), Mozilla Japan will be run as a non-profit organization by several prominent members: Hideo Aiso, Tokyo University of Technology president; Satoko Takita, formerly of Netscape Japan; Motohiro Egota of Ten Art-ni, a publicly traded open source company based in Japan; and Professor Hideyuki Tokuda of Keio University.

Mitchell Baker, Mozilla Foundation president, said the inclusion of Mozilla Japan as the second regional Mozilla group was an easy choice. Like the first, Mozilla Europe, MozillaGumi has a strong developer community that’s done a lot to promote U.S.-headquartered Mozilla overseas, including developer outreach, developer days and lead in the Japanese-language version of Mozilla products.

“What Mozilla Japan will do is focus on the Japanese language and market needs,” she said. “We’re here in the United States, so we don’t have a local view of what makes sense in a particular area. There’s a great deal of subtlety that goes into what makes a product really shine for a particular market.”

Baker also pointed out that there are a range of deployment and migration issues, especially for enterprises, that calls for someone who is close by, knows the language and knows the local infrastructure.

In addition to Mozilla Japan and Mozilla Europe, the Mozilla Foundation is working on forming two more non-profit extensions; one will likely be announced by the end of the year while the other is still in the formative stages. Baker said the foundation will not rule out other Asian countries in the future, cognizant of the many nationalities that make up the continent.

The term Mozilla is a contraction of the words “Mosaic-killer” and “Godzilla” (not Microsoft-killer, as one might think), a project within Netscape Communications to create the next generation Web browser to replace the Mosaic Web browser.

Mozilla and Godzilla share a rocky relationship. In August 2002 the trademark owner for Godzilla, a Japanese entertainment company named Toho, filed an infringement suit against blog site Davezilla, according to a CNet article. The fear at the time was that the suit was in preparation for an attack on the Mozilla name.

Baker gave a brief answer on her organization’s involvement: “We have investigated our use of the Mozilla trademark as we use it and we’ve taken all the steps necessary to make sure that use is fine in connection with our project.”

The Netscape browser division, which ran afoul of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer in the oft-cited browser wars, was mothballed by parent AOL last year, though an almost entirely Mozilla-based engine is used in Netscape 7.2, was launched Tuesday. In July 2003, Mozilla development was handed
to the open source group, which formed the Mozilla Foundation.

When asked if Japanese citizens would be terrorized by news of the arrival of the Godzilla-sounding foundation on the mainland, Baker — who also goes by the title of “Head Lizard Wrangler” — laughed.

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