About 30 organizations in Japan, including major electronics and communications companies and the University of Tokyo, will jointly develop technology for a new advanced search engine, industry sources said.

The government is poised to provide a subsidy for the large-scale project. The companies and organizations involved will set up a research institute on Friday at the earliest in a bid to put the new search engine into practical use within two years.

The companies that will participate in the project include Hitachi, Ltd., Fujitsu Ltd. and the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone group.

Currently, three major U.S. Internet companies, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, dominate the search engine market and have kept their search engine technology a secret. Many people in Japan fear that the domination of the three firms will prevent Japanese companies from entering the market.

In response to the fear, the 30-odd organizations will jointly develop basic technology for a new search engine and release its details both in Japan and overseas to allow businesses to use the technology.

The European Union, led by France, is doing something very similar, with its "Quaero" project.

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