Japan is about four years behind the United States in its consumer and business use of the Internet, said an economist who recently scouted Japan for investment opportunities.

Japan "is where we were in 1995," said Susan E. Woodward, chief economist and executive vice president of research at OffRoad Capital Corp. Ms. Woodward, a former chief economist at the Securities and Exchange Commission, recently took a one-week fact-finding tour through Japan at the behest of some of OffRoad Capital's Japanese investors.

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