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X360 in Japan this December

"We expect to win."

It's not just Ken Kutaragi that's full of fighting talk as Sony and Microsoft limber up for the next-gen console battle like a pair of champion sumo wrestlers circling each other warily in the ring.

Taking the fight to Sony on its home turf is Microsoft's top Japanese cheerleader, regional Xbox chief Yoshihiro Maruyama, who has this week confirmed that the company's next-generation console, the Xbox 360, will launch in Japan this December.

Speaking with the press in the Far East, Maruyama said that "we will enter the Japanese market around December," placing the launch date in Japan a few weeks after the expected October/November timeframe in North America and Europe.

The former Squaresoft COO also took the opportunity to let the assembled hacks know that this time around, Microsoft intends to beat Sony on its own doorstep, echoing previous comments from corporate VP Peter Moore, who has pledged that Microsoft won't repeat past mistakes in Japan.

Japan has so far been the toughest market for the Xbox, and Microsoft has largely failed to capture the imagination of Japanese gamers with the console - which is vastly outsold in the region by both the PlayStation 2 and the GameCube.

Next time around will be different though, according to former Square executive Maruyama - who told journalists that "this time, as well as launching first, we have focused on designing the machine and the games for the Japanese market."

"We expect to win," he concluded.

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Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey

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Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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