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New features of Japanese manufacturing industry and the difficulties with mode transformation

ZHANG Yulai1

(1.Japan Institute, Nankai University, Tianjin, China 300071)

【Abstract】In recent years, there have been some new features in Japanese manufacturing industry, which have mainly been manifested in three aspects. Firstly, the corporate profitability has been greatly improved. Secondly, many enterprises continue to deepen the global operation. Thirdly, the new and obvious trend of service-oriented manufacturing especially reflects the acceleration of enterprise transformation. However, Japanese manufacturing industry is also facing difficulties with transformation, and a series of fraud scandals in 2017 exactly reflect that. In short, Japanese manufacturing industry has not fallen into a deep recession in spite of the difficulties. In contrast, some enterprises have made significant progress in innovation and transformation.

【Keywords】 Japanese manufacturing industry; corporate profitability; global operation; service-oriented manufacturing; fraud scandal;


【Funds】 General Project of National Social Science Fund of China (16BGJ048)

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    [1]. ① The fiscal year of Japanese enterprises generally begins on April 1 of the current year and ends on March 31 of the following year. However, in recent years, some enterprises have begun to adopt the fiscal year of January 1—December 31. [^Back]

    [2]. ① In Japan, a backbone enterprise refers to an enterprise whose size is between a large enterprise and a SEM. It has independent technologies and products, and has a high market share in related fields. The term has been in use since the 1960s. In addition, Japanese SMEs refer to enterprises with a capital of less than JPY 300 million and fewer than 300 employees (standards are lower for wholesale, retail and service industries). [^Back]

    [3]. ① The first balance of payments is one of the important items in Japan’s external current balance of payments. It refers to the interest and dividends, and other payments arising from Japan’s external financial claim and debt, including the income from foreign direct investment, securities investment and other investment. [^Back]

    [4]. ② LSI means large-scale integrated circuits of semiconductors; MCU refers to micro-control units in the field of semiconductor, NEC stands for Nippon Electric Company, and DRAM refers to dynamic memory of semiconductor [^Back]

    [5]. ① According to scholars represented by Professor Fujimoto Takahiro of the University of Tokyo, Japanese enterprises have the internal coordination advantage for modular production, that is, the operational advantages of mutual coordination based on Toyota Production System production mode and the unique training system of Japanese enterprises. [^Back]

    [6]. ① Komatsu’s KOMTRAX is a remote control system based on on-board sensors and satellite technology. [^Back]

    [7]. ② Komatsu’s Autonomous Haulage System is an autonomous driving system for haulers. It was tested in 2005 and put into commercial use in 2008. So far more than 100 vehicles have been included in the system and introduced into unmanned aerial vehicle equipment. [^Back]

    [8]. ① UACJ, that is, United Aluminum Company of Japan was established in 2013 by the merger of Furukawa-Sky Aluminum and Sumitomo Light Metal Industries. Its production capacity of aluminum rolling products exceeds 1 million tons, which ranks first in Japan, and is in the forefront of the world. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 22-1065/F

Vol 37, No. 04, Pages 35-47

July 2018


Article Outline


  • Introduction
  • 1 Manufacturing enterprises’ profitability has increased significantly
  • 2 The global operation of Japanese manufacturing industry has been deepened constantly
  • 3 Diversified transformation and service-oriented manufacturing trend
  • 4 Fraud scandals reflect the difficulties of Japanese manufacturing industry with transformation
  • Conclusion
  • Footnote