Having propelled itself to world leadership in microelectronics and computer hardware, Japan Inc is under way with a five-year project, code-named Sigma, that promises to plug the last remaining gap in its capability, that of applications software development. Sigma stands for Software Industrialised Generator and Maintenance Aids, and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and some 150 companies including all the majors, have committed about $165m of investment to the project over five years. An initial 50 prototypes of a standard Sigma development workstation are due to be delivered by six companies this month, and a comprehensive array of mainframes has been assembled at the Sigma centre to support the Sigma network on which all participants will be linked. The environment chosen for Sigma is Unix System V with BSD 4.2 extensions, and the aim of the programme is to develop a comprehensive set of national applications development and documentation generation tools. A full report on Sigma from our Tokyo correspondent is in page two.