The governments and private sector companies of Japan, South Korea and China are rumoured to be working together on the development of a new operating system to rival Microsoft Windows.
Two Japanese newspapers claimed that tomorrow Takeo Hiranuma, the Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, will outline the plan at a regional meeting of economic ministers in Phnom Penh.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry declined to confirm the report.
The Wednesday announcement will be the first time that the plans will be made public. The final agreement on the project is due in the middle of September, the reports said, although they were unclear about the focus of the work.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, quoting "sources close to the matter", said a new operating system was being considered after the recent spate of viruses targeting Windows. Work to be undertaken will include development of new applications such as word processor and spreadsheet software.
Meanwhile, the Asahi Shimbun said the plan is aimed at "smart devices" such as mobile telephones, digital cameras, car navigation systems and computer servers. The idea is being driven by a fear that Microsoft could corner the market for such devices as it has done on the desktop.
Both newspapers agreed that the project would take the open-source Linux operating system as its base and build on top of it.
Japanese companies including NTT Data, Matsushita, NEC, Hitachi and Fujitsu are expected to take part, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun claimed.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service