HOME > Kansai's Attractiveness: > Industry and Economy > Manufacturing

Manufacturing

An electronics manufacturer’s Historical Museum

■Electrical Appliances and Electronics

 The Big Three electrical appliance manufacturers in Kansai, Panasonic Corp., SANYO Electric Co. Ltd., and Sharp Corp., all have head offices in Osaka Prefecture. Panasonic Corp. started out as a manufacturer of practical goods such as two-way electric light sockets (plug-in sockets) and it is now the biggest manufacturer of electrical appliances in Japan. SANYO produced hit after hit with its efficient production system, and then was successful in extending its market overseas. The name of Sharp Corp. comes from the Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil developed by the company in 1915. Thereafter, Sharp succeeded in the development of distinctive original products such as electronic calculators and radios, and today it is known as one of the foremost manufactures of LCD TV sets. The Big Three, which grew and developed in Kansai, are now global brands with manufacturing bases not only in Japan, but also all over the world.

 KYOCERA Corp., a maker of fine ceramics founded in Kyoto, develops unique materials and products, providing the industries with new options, and on the basis of these fundamental technologies, the company is diversifying its business in a wide variety of fields, such as semiconductors, electronic devices, and communications equipment., NICHIA Corp. (Tokushima) is the largest LED maker in the nation. Nintendo Co., the game-player hardware and software maker, Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd., a unique electronic parts maker, and Shimadzu Corp., the measuring instruments manufacturer, all have their head offices in Kansai.

A chemical manufacturer's LED manufacturing plant

■Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals

 Known as "the city of apothecaries," the Doshomachi district in Osaka is lined with the offices of the leading Japanese pharmaceutical companies and it is the hub for the manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceutical products in Japan. The history of pharmaceutical companies in Kansai goes all the way back to wholesale dealers of Chinese herbal medicine in the Edo period. Thereafter, dealers began to import pharmaceuticals from the West, enthusiastically introducing western technology and eventually emerging as full-fledged manufacturers. The large domestic manufacturers such as Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Shionogi & Co., Ltd. etc. and many foreign-owned or affiliated pharmaceutical corporations have central administration offices, research and development centers, and manufacturing plants in the Kansai region, making the area a strategic base for global business operations.

 In the field of chemistry, which played an important role in the technical revolution that brought in the high-tech era, one of the major forces in the Japanese chemical industry is very active in the Kansai region, the general chemical manufacturer Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., which operates in a variety of fields, mainly agriculture, medicines and medical supplies, dyes, and chemical products. In the paint industry also, the "Big Three" companies, Nippon Paint Co., Ltd., Kansai Paint Co., Ltd., and DaiNippon Toryo Co., Ltd., are concentrated in Kansai, where they have a long proud history.

A machinery manufacturer's central research laboratory

■ Machinery, Steel and Metals

 One of the stalwarts of the Japanese machinery industry and located in Kansai (Wakayama City), Shima Seiki Mfg., Ltd. has the largest market share of computerized flatbed knitting machines in Japan. Especially in the production of apparel design systems employing CG technology, the company is a top-class enterprise on a global scale. Kubota Corporation in Osaka is the leading manufacturer of agricultural machinery and equipment in Japan, and it is also famous for cast iron water pipes. The company also has a long record of accomplishments in environmental plants and desert greenery projects. Yanmar Co., Ltd. in Osaka was the first manufacturer in the world to develop a small diesel engine, and the company is a general machinery manufacturer, producing a wide variety of products, including land and marine engines, agricultural machines, construction machines, pleasure boat engines, cruisers, and yachts, etc. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Hyogo Pref.) is one of the major enterprises in the Japanese heavy industry.

 In the steel and metalworking industries, both Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. (Osaka) and Kobe Steel, Ltd. (Hyogo Pref.) got their start in Kansai.
■Textiles

 The textile industry has been the driving force of industrial development in Japan since the end of the 19th century, with the introduction of spinning technology from the leading country at that time, England, spurring the develop of Osaka into the center of the cotton spinning industry in Japan. TOYOBO CO., LTD. (Osaka), started with its cotton spinning business, and it is the first textile company in Japan with a history of over 120 years. There were many textile manufacturers in Kansai that formed the foundation of the activities of the industry, such as Kanebo, Ltd., Nisshinbo Industries, Inc., and Kureha Corp..

 After World War II, synthetic fibers were developed to replace cotton tread or yarn, and TEIJIN LIMITED, one of the oldest enterprises in the chemical fiber industry, has developed into a global organization that is also involved in the production of a variety of chemical products and pharmaceuticals, as well as health-care business operations. Many textile-related enterprises have gathered in Fukui Prefecture, such as SEIREN Co., Ltd., holding an important position in the Japanese textile industry, while stressing the long-held traditions of Japan.

A whiskey distillery

■ Food Production

 In the food industry as well, leading Japanese companies in each field have manufacturing plants and research and development facilities in Kansai. The first whiskey distillery in Japan was built by Suntory Limited (Osaka) on the outskirts of Kyoto in Yamazaki, and the company, which now has the largest domestic market share for whisky, has expanded its business in a number of fields, including beer, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, flower seedlings cultivated through the use of biotechnology, and food products. Founded in Kansai, ASAHI BREWERIES, LTD. now has breweries in Suita and Nishinomiya in Kansai, and constantly competes with other beer brewers for the top share of the beer market.

 Instant noodles are consumed all over the world today, and "Chicken Ramen," the first instant noodle product, was developed by NISSIN FOOD PRODUCTS CO., LTD. (Osaka) in 1958. In 1971, the company produced the "Cup Noodle" product, which remains a bestseller even today. Otsuka Foods Co., Ltd. (Osaka) was the first worldwide to develop one-portion "retort-packed food" food products, which have become matter-of-fact today.
■Sports

  In the field of sporting goods, products produced by MIZUNO CORP. (Osaka), such as golf equipment, professional baseball and soccer uniforms, shoes, bats and balls, etc., are used both domestically and worldwide by prominent athletes, and also as official equipment at all types of matches and games. The biggest maker of sportswear in Japan, DESCENTE, LTD. (Osaka) handles a wide variety of goods, from high-quality official competition uniforms to fashionable sportswear. The company also supplies all manner of goods in cooperation with foreign brands. ASICS CORP. (Hyogo) is a general sporting goods maker, and especially in regard to shoes, the company is the undisputed leader, and track and field athletes all around the world prefer the company's products.

Creation Core Higashi Osaka

■Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises Proud of their High Technological Capabilities

 One of the characteristics of the manufacturers in the Kansai region is the high ratio of small- and medium-sized enterprises with a high degree of technological knowledge. There are many cases where these companies are "number one," or even "the only one," worldwide. These small- and medium-sized enterprises have provided a foundation for the processing and assembly industries, which are so representative of Japan, like the automobile, the electrical appliances, and electronic equipment industries, and as subcontractors they have competed aggressively for market share, forming the support industries so necessary for the development of the Kansai region.

 Located in the east side of Osaka Prefecture, Higashi Osaka is the home of many small- and medium-sized enterprises and known throughout the country as a manufacturing city. Located in Higashi Osaka, the Creation Core Higashi Osaka is engaged in efforts designed to make the development of even further advances in leading technology possible through close collaboration between industrial, academic, and government organizations and spur the growth of an organic system for specialization and an area-wide network. A symbolic example of the organization's efforts is the fact that the Astro-Technology SOHLA engaged in the development of unique small satellites and succeeded in launching the Maido No. 1 satellite on the 23rd of January 2009.

Back                      Next