Japan Seeks Its Economic Mojo inside Stuff which Makes the Stuff

Japan can be moving toward “an entirely different strategy, where additional countries cannot compete,” said Ryoji Musha, president of the economic analysis outfit Musha Research in Tokyo. “Going forward, Japan will show a remarkable emergence among the locomotives of the global economy.”

which would likely be not bad news for everyone. Japan remains the entire world’s third-largest economy, behind only the United States along with China. A stronger Japan would likely offer a badly needed pillar to support global growth along with serve as a counterweight to rising Chinese political along with economic clout.

Bellows along with the many additional Japanese products like them have already helped buoy the country’s growth. Over the past two years, the economy has experienced the longest continuous expansion since the 1980s. Last year’s 1.7 percent growth rate was the fastest since 2013.


“The technology used in generating these products can be very difficult,” said Norihiro Irie, Irie Koken’s president. “Not many companies are able to do the item.”

Ko Sasaki for The completely new York Times

Sustaining the item won’t be easy. Japanese companies will have to strive to keep their quality edge over low-cost China, which has caught up with Japan in generating things like televisions along with appliances, as well as over rivals including the United States, South Korea along with Taiwan. Japan’s image on quality has been hit recently by quite a few scandals.

More broadly, Japanese society can be still shrinking, aging along with deeply skeptical of immigrants. which will make the item difficult for companies to find enough skilled workers along with will put pressure on the country’s leaders to keep its education system up to the task.

Many of Japan’s biggest players have to look beyond the country’s borders in their quest for growth. The declining population helped drive Takeda Pharmaceutical’s deal on Tuesday for Shire — the largest-ever overseas acquisition by a Japanese company.

“The undertow pulling at the dynamics of growth can be the main limit to what Japan can do on a sustained basis,” said Kenneth Courtis, chairman of the finance firm Starfort Investment Holdings. Though Japan has some competitive companies which will continue to excel, he said, “I don’t know if which improvements the overall equation.”

Japan also had several false starts over the past quarter-century, only to stumble back into the doldrums. If This specific time can be different, one big reason will be companies like Irie Koken.

Mr. Irie said business had not been This specific not bad since he took over as the company’s president 19 years ago. Sales more than doubled in its last fiscal year.

“We can’t catch up with all our orders,” Mr. Irie said.

With I.T. becoming more critical to just about every sector along with factories looking to improve efficiency, greater demand can be expected for robots, chips along with additional high-tech products — along with the made-in-Japan parts along with machines needed to manufacture them.


Rosen Diankov, left, an American robotics engineer, cofounded Mujin with Issei Takino, the chief executive, to produce devices which control industrial robots.

Ko Sasaki for The completely new York Times

“Even if there can be a recession, I don’t see the item changing speed right currently,” said Rosen Diankov, chief technology officer at the robotics firm Mujin Inc.

Mr. Diankov, an American robotics specialist, founded Mujin in 2011 with Japan’s Issei Takino, a former cutting-tool sales manager, to produce devices which control industrial robots. Its headquarters in a refurbished warehouse in east Tokyo contain the hipster vibe of a garage start-up, with offices along with workshops cluttered with equipment.

Such entrepreneurial companies are all too rare in Japan, where venture capital along with risk-taking are scarce compared with the United States or China. however Mujin’s founders believe Japan can be leading the way in automation, along with they wanted to be part of the action.

“We could have opened our company in Silicon Valley,” said Mr. Takino, who can be the firm’s chief executive officer. “One of the not bad things about being in Japan can be which the item can be very easy to find a customer.”

Mujin’s technology can appear retro at first glance. One hand-held remote looks as if the item belonged having a 1990s video game console. however Mujin says its advanced components make robots more efficient along with easier to use, along with are hard for competitors to recreate.

The sheer complexity of these Japanese specialties may help the economy maintain a competitive edge. Unlike the TVs, CD players along with additional consumer electronics which drove Japan’s past boom, Mujin’s controllers along with Irie Koken’s bellows are much harder for manufacturers in China along with elsewhere to replicate. When the Beijing-based online retailer JD.com wanted to automate an unmanned warehouse in China, the item turned to Mujin.

Some of Japan’s big corporations are heading inside same direction. The electronics giant Panasonic was once synonymous with TV sets along with videorecorders. however over the past six years, the item has drastically downsized its consumer businesses — the item no longer sells televisions inside United States at all — along with shifted into industrial electronics, including the batteries for Tesla roadsters along with sensors along with cameras for automobiles.


Mujin’s technology can look retro on the outside, however the company says its advanced components make robots more efficient along with easier to use.

Ko Sasaki for The completely new York Times

“the item can be very important to position ourselves wisely,” said Yasuyuki Higuchi, chief executive of Panasonic’s connected solutions unit. “Otherwise, we cannot be competitive.”

However, even the most competitive sectors aren’t immune by Japan’s problems. Severe labor shortages are already plaguing businesses, said Marcel Thieliant, senior Japan economist at the research firm Capital Economics, who added which the country wasn’t welcoming nearly enough foreigners to offset the impact.

“The demographic headwinds will continue to resist,” said Mr. Thieliant, who estimates which Japan’s current spate of growth has already ended. “If you don’t get more immigrants in, you eventually hit a wall.”

Mr. Irie has struggled to find the workers he needs to fill the deluge of completely new orders. His customers currently have to wait twice as long as usual for their bellows — up to 5 months. “The economy can be very not bad, so not bad workers are being taken by additional companies,” he complained.

The shortage has prodded management to invent completely new ways to attract talent. Mujin employs a chef to cook lunch for the staff every day. Mr. Irie in recent years has taken all of his employees on a Hawaii vacation along with renovated the company’s offices.

“The older employees asked: ‘Why do you have to spend money to make things stylish?’” Mr. Irie said. “The image of manufacturing may not be very nice. We want to change the item.”

He remains optimistic, too. He plans to expand the capacity of his factory in Japan over the next few years, possibly generating the firm’s largest-ever investment.

“We are riding a wave,” he said. “We can be on This specific wave because we have something special.”

Continue reading the main story