ooking to the land of the rising yen: Time Warner Inc. and US West Inc. are reportedly close to penning a joint-venture agreement with Japan's Itochu Corp. and Toshiba Corp. The planned $400 million joint venture is aimed at building cable television systems in Japan. The four players aren't exactly strange bedfellows. Itochu and Toshiba jointly own 12.5 percent of Time Warner Entertainment L.P., which controls the conglomerate's cable TV operations. US West owns another 25 percent of Time Warner.

Ma Bell goes online: AT&T Corp. shelled out more than $50 million for Ziff Communications Co.'s untested online service. Although Ziff's Interexchange Online Network has yet to debut over the phone lines, the graphically rich service is expected to lure publishers that want their online versions to more closely resemble the real thing. AT&T says it will launch the service early this year.

Meanwhile, Tele-Communications Inc. recently purchased 20 percent of Microsoft Corp.'s pending online service for $125 million. The transaction gives boob-tube baron John Malone a hefty chunk of the industry's most anticipated and feared service that will be bundled with Microsoft's long-delayed Windows 95.

PCS goes transatlantic: Northern Telecom recently won a $50 million contract to build a personal communications services network in France. Bouygues Telecom, a French carrier, selected the Canadian company's French subsidiary, Nortel Matra Cellular, to supply and install a PCS network for Paris by the close of 1995.

Dumping NASDAQ: LCI International Inc., a McLean, Va.-based long distance company, has filed an application to list its common and preferred stock on the New York Stock Exchange. LCI joins a number of other companies, including Newbridge Networks, that have recently abandoned the troubled NASDAQ exchange.

Bits and pieces: Open Text Corp., another one of Canada's markup language notables, is opening a new sales office in Washington. Its home office is near the University of Waterloo, Canada's software brain shop...8(a) firm Dynamic Resources Inc., Alexandria, Va., ranked 34th in the nation in Imaging Magazine's roster of the top document imaging resellers, making it the highest-ranking 8(a).

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