Toyota Motor Corp. has revised its group operating profit 35 percent upward from the previous forecast for the business year through March 31. Despite the damage to its supply chains from the March 11, disasters in Tohoku and the floods in Thailand from July to November, Toyota has managed to secure profits. In contrast, major electronic makers have suffered massive deficits, with Panasonic suffering a net loss of ¥780 billion and Sony a net loss of ¥220 billion.
The upward business performance revision by Japan’s largest automaker, which is also the nation’s largest manufacturer, has prevented a total collapse of Japan’s manufacturing sector in the current business year. While it is important for individual companies to make efforts to strengthen their competitiveness, it is imperative for the government to develop a national strategy to help Japanese companies develop new products and improve their competitiveness.
Toyota expects to attain an operating profit of ¥270 billion, up from the previously forecast ¥200 billion. That is 42 percent less than the corresponding figure for the previous business year.
Toyota introduced its hybrid car, Aqua, to the domestic market in December, and it is finding many customers. It boasts the world’s best fuel efficiency. This shows that thoughtful application of high technology to meet the needs of consumers can lead to a successful product.
While Toyota has also has launched 19 new models in North America, South Korean carmakers are steadily catching up with Japanese carmakers in the same market. They are building automobiles whose quality matches that of the Japanese and whose prices are relatively cheap in comparison.
Among electronic makers, Sharp, whose business performance has been rather steady until recently, thanks largely to robust sales of its large liquid crystal panels, expects to suffer a record net loss of ¥290 billion. It is reported that Japanese makers are lagging behind South Korean makers in the field of next-generation organic electroluminescent TV sets.
It is high time that the government mobilized all the available policy tools to help Japanese manufacturers enhance their research and development so they can better compete on the global stage.
Development of renewable energy sources, technologies for medical and nursing care services and environment-friendly technologies should also be an important part of Japan’s national strategy to strengthen manufacturing.