JAPAN'S MUCH BALLYHOOED "VENture business" boom may be going bust. In the past six months alone, more than 25 of that country's growth companies have gone out of business, according to Nikkei Venture Business Center, in Tokyo, an association of growth businesses.

The principal reason for the precipitous decline of these firms -- several of which had been seen as the "entrepreneurial heirs" to the likes of Sony Corp. and Kyocera Corp. -- is the recent skyrocketing value of the yen, which has led many large Japanese firms to source components and other high-tech gear in Korea and other Asian nations.

"Most of the high-tech companies we invested in are near bankruptcy," notes Hiroshi Kato, a venture capitalist from Yamaichi Univen. "Like most Japanese firms, they were built on exports, and can't stand the yen changes."

While the recent decline in venture business prospects is causing grief in Japan, it could mean good news for capital-hungry American firms, as Japan's $1.27-billion venture capital industry is forced to focus more and more on investing in American entrepreneurial ventures.