Staff writer

There are some loud voices in the business community wondering whether Japan is losing its reputation as a source of high-quality products.

A series of serious accidents at nuclear facilities, with rocket launches, and in train tunnels is raising concern that the days when manufacturers spearheaded miraculous economic growth by adhering to quality standards are a thing of the past.

Referring to the recent accidents and failures, Hiroshi Okuda, chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers’ Associations (Nikkeiren), recently warned that people in the country’s manufacturing industry may have lost their focus.

“That can be fatal to Japan, which is a country of manufacturing,” said Okuda, who is also chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. “As a person who has been in the manufacturing industry, I feel a sense of crisis.”

Okuda cited a feeling of “insecurity” spreading among workers, including bureaucrats and managers, as companies move to restructure and slash personnel.

It is dangerous to think downsizing will automatically lead to improved efficiency and benefits for companies, he warned.

“The issue of money sometimes absorbs people’s attention,” said Okuda, whose firm has 2.5 trillion yen in surplus funds. “Of course money and efficiency are important. But it may be time to give a second thought to our attitude toward work.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.