Nami Enterprises, a consulting firm specializing in United States-Japan business relations, recently reported that the number of U.S. companies seeking Japanese partners and targeting Japanese consumers is actually increasing, despite the recent deluge of dismal reports on Japan's economic situation.

The Orlando firm says that increased foreign involvement in Japan spans many industries, including pharmaceuticals, insurance, luxury goods, media and e-commerce. "It's really quite simple-Japanese companies and consumers are more approachable and open to new possibilities now that the economy is less stable than in the past," says Christine H. Okamoto, Nami Enterprises president.

This means that American companies can enter the market a bit more easily, and Japanese companies, eager for foreign funds and greater access to the American market, are more willing to team up with U.S. companies. "For the Americans, it's also a case of 'buy low, sell high'-savvy investors are taking advantage of opportunities they could not have afforded in the past when Japan's economy was stronger," Okamoto notes.

Still, these golden opportunities bring many challenges, and countless ventures have failed due to an inadequate understanding of Japanese culture, business practices, consumer habits and market conditions.