In a fresh sign that the race to develop the next generation of television technology is speeding up, Sony Corp. has announced that it would focus much of its research on high-definition TV at a major facility in San Jose, Calif.

The announcement, which was made in New York by a host of top Sony officials from Deputy President Masaaki Morita on down, is aimed partly at defusing fears in Washington that American industry will be left out of what is expected to be the next huge market in consumer electronics."Today, HDTV is being held hostage as a symbol of the need for improving American competitiveness. This is most unfortunate," said Neil Vander Dussen, president of Sony Corp. of America. Pointing out that Sony, which is headquartered in Tokyo, has located a major part of its engineering and manufacturing in the United States, Vander Dussen said that Sony "now significantly contributes to the strengthening of American competitiveness."

Unlike most major Japanese corporations, which until recently had kept nearly all their manufacturing and advanced research at home, Sony has long located factories and other important facilities abroad.

"Sony's approach to technology development is global," said Morita, who is also chairman of Sony Corp. of America.

HDTV promises to greatly improve the picture and sound of home television and is expected to be a $50 billion market by the end of the century. It is also expected to help spur major advances in imaging and other technologies useful in a wide range of electronics applications.

Several members of Congress have been urging the Bush administration to back a government-supported consortium of U.S. companies to revive the American consumer electronics industry.

Sony, which is competing with a number of Japanese, U.S. and European companies in developing HDTV products, said its San Jose facility would double in size from the 25 engineers now working on HDTV projects.