TOKYO, March 15 (Kyodo) — Microsoft Corp. on Friday launched its Surface RT tablet computer in Japan in a bid to catch up in the market dominated by Apple Inc.'s iPads and products running on Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

The tablet computer, already released in over 20 countries including the United States and China, runs on Microsoft's Windows RT system optimized for tablet computers. The OS contains many of the same features as Windows 8 for personal computers, according to Microsoft.

The suggested retail price for the Surface RT with a 10.6-inch screen is around 49,800 yen for the 32-gigabyte model, cheaper than other tablets released by Japanese manufacturers such as Fujitsu Ltd. and NEC Personal Computers Ltd.

At an event in Tokyo, a Microsoft official said the device is a premium tablet that can be used at home and work, claiming it is equipped with features that iPads lack.

Meanwhile, some Japanese electronics makers, who are business partners of Microsoft, are wary that the launch of the low-priced tablet from the U.S. technology giant could negatively affect sales of their products, including personal computers.

"It could drag down sales of personal computers that run on Windows 8," a senior official of an electronics company said.