For all their technological prowess, Japan and its computer industry have not vied with their U.S. counterparts for leadership on the Internet or in matters of electronic commerce. Could that make Japan a useful vantage point from which to understand our confusion about smart cards, digital cash, security and privacy, and other thorny issues?

Hitachi Research Institute, funded by but independent of the electronics company that has made a mark as a supplier to Mondex, may already have answered that question in a book it published last October, "Electronic Money and Open Network Society."

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