Former Sony chairman and CEO Nobuyuki Idei joined's board of directors as an independent director, an addition the Chinese search company hopes will help its push into Japan.

Idei replaces Asad Jamal, the co-chairman and managing director of DFJ ePlanet Ventures, who resigned this month from Baidu's board.

"We are confident that he will make a significant contribution towards Baidu's efforts to extend our leadership in Chinese-language internet search and to develop our search platform in Japan," Robin Li, Baidu's chairman and CEO, said.

The release did not elaborate on how Idei would help Baidu improve its Chinese-language search offering. But Idei's experience and understanding of the Japanese market will likely prove helpful for Baidu's efforts to build a Japanese-language search engine.

Idei was head of Sony from 2000 until 2005, when he stepped down amidst a management shuffle that installed Howard Stringer as head of the company. After leaving Sony, Idei established a consulting company, Quantum Leaps, that advises clients on technology issues.

Idei continues to serve as chairman of Sony's advisory board.