[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Journal ]
Messages from "Economic Trend", August 2004

Looking to the Revitalization of "Family Trades" in Japan:
Attention to "Monozukuri"

Etsuhiko Shoyama
Vice Chairman, Nippon Keidanren
President, Hitachi, Ltd.

The Athens Olympics are almost upon us. The Olympic Torch relay, which came to Japan for the first time in forty years and covers five continents for the first time ever, will soon arrive at its point of origin. We have great expectations for our Japanese athletes, and particularly look forward to seeing medals brought home by those athletes who are carrying on "family trades."

We recommend that you watch these decisive moments on large flat-screen TV that offers outstanding realism, and record these exciting scenes onto DVDs so that you can watch them again and again. We hope that those who are lucky enough to be able to go to Athens will bring home the excitement of the live events on digital cameras. Athens will be a major event venue in terms of the future of the digital appliance industry, which has become a driving force behind the recovery of the Japanese economy.

It is difficult to highlight "family trades," not only in sports, but in any highly competitive arena. The manufacturing industry, which was once referred to as the traditional Japanese "family trade," suffered from a recession that has been called the "10 lost years." The constant and determined efforts made by companies during this time, however, along with the developments in digital technologies and other fields, are finally bearing fruit. How can we tie this experience into a full-scale recovery of "family trades"?

The key will be found in a concentration on "Monozukuri" - the art of making things. Learning from the mistakes of our overconfidence during the latter half of the 1980s and our masochistic approach during the 1990s, we should trust humbly in the power of our own "Monozukuri." Hitachi conducts "Monozukuri" from the perspective of moving from the "things" themselves to the entire process of creating value in the things we make - taking on the challenge of "building in value" with the skills of a master, and "creating value" through advanced technologies.

The "teamwork" that ties people together is essential to achieving this goal. We must avoid losing sight of the "family trades" aspect of Japanese companies due to overemphasis on individuals, which is the mainstream approach in western countries. Appreciation from the people around us leads to true confidence in the "self," and by bringing together the unique individuals who have become stronger as a result of this confidence, we find a power that is greater than the sum of all the parts. If we can truly get this mechanism working effectively, then we will undoubtedly be able to further increase these synergistic effects by adding to the equation individuals with different ideas, regardless of their nationality.

How far will Japan's "family trades" go? Will we see the birth of new "family trades"? I am confident that the exciting competitions in Athens will create in us an energy that will contribute to a recovery in the "family trades" of the business world.

Home Page in English