In February, Hitachi Ltd., the nation's largest maker of electric equipment and infrastructure systems, splurged on one of its priciest acquisitions. The target was the railway vehicle and signal businesses of Italy's Finmeccanica S.p.A., a deal estimated at over ¥250 billion.

The move was in line with the company's accelerated shift in recent years toward global expansion, reducing its reliance on the domestic market, where business potential is shackled by the shrinking population. Hitachi plans to derive more than half its group revenues from abroad in fiscal 2015.

The business model Hitachi is pursuing is the same one being used as General Electric Co. Joining the ranks of the U.S. conglomerate, which is far more profitable, remains a challenge, although Hitachi is making a strong comeback from its loss-making years in the late 2000s — a period that had some employees fearing bankruptcy.