Business / Economy

Japan manufacturers lagging in use of IT, report says

Kyodo

Japan’s manufacturing sector is lagging behind other countries in utilizing information technology, according to an annual government report that called for improvements.

The report, released Tuesday, also urged the industry, which accounts for some 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, to take the initiative in the development of robotics technology. It also called for more efforts to make Japan a global hub for research and development activity.

The report was immediately approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet amid a view to include the suggested measures in the government’s growth strategy to be revised this month.

The report said Japanese manufacturers were not utilizing so-called “big data,” or the tremendous amounts of data accumulated online.

According to a survey, 70 percent of Japanese firms were not using or had never heard of the concept. By comparison, 90 percent of U.S. firms said they were using big data.

The report also said Japan should learn from Germany’s move to promote next-generation manufacturing through a system that connects factories, companies, product information, consumers and other things via the Internet to collectively manage data and boost productivity.

“It is not too much to say that there is a need to review all parts of corporate activity, including production process, and renovate them,” the report said.

It added that the number of female employees in the manufacturing sector was significantly lower compared to the number of male employees, and called for hiring more women and increasing the number of women in executive positions.