Aichi-Nagoya international Business Center
Added In: Articles › Life in Japan
The Aichi World Exposition was held in 2005 in Aichi. One point that the local authorities became painfully aware of at the time was that internationally (and to a degree, within Japan), brand name recognition of Aichi and Nagoya was, to put it simply, woeful. While many people can name where big brands such as Chrysler, Apple and Microsoft are based, very few people are aware of the home base of Toyota, Denso or Brother Industries.
And it is not like the region is without economic clout. Did you know that:
- Aichi has FIVE times the industrial output of Tokyo
- 70% of Japan’s trade surplus is generated in Aichi
- 85% of all Sony production is in Aichi
Yet Osaka and Tokyo have far greater recognition worldwide, while overseas Aichi, as a brand, is an unknown. To this end, I-BAC evolved from EXPO 2005, supported by Aichi Prefectural Government, City of Nagoya, Nagoya Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Nagoya Port Authority. I-BAC’s mission is two-fold; to promote Aichi and Nagoya as brand names both locally and internationally, and to serve as an entry point for foreign corporations looking to establish themselves in the region.
Mr. Nishiwaki, Secretary-General of I-BAC, outlined some of the issues the region faces. “In Aichi, we make everything from the highest quality ochya cups (Japanese tea ceremony cups) through to Boeing wing tips; did you know that!! Aichi is the home of monozukuri, or the art of making things of the highest quality and efficiency. In fact, I believe people in Aichi have much in common with the stereotypical English eccentric, or even the mad scientist; loving nothing more than to mess around inventing contraptions or experimenting with new substances and processes. Yet foreign corporations are often unaware of the breadth and depth of skills available here. They know of Tokyo as the political center, and of Osaka as the home of the big trading houses, but many don’t realise that we here in Aichi are the ones who actually do all the productive work!”
Currently the region’s economy is strong, especially compared with many other regions in Japan. “We still do things in a traditional way here, and there is a lot to be said for our cooperative approach to manufacturing. Our manufacturers tend to specialise intensively and to work together. If there are four companies producing components, which then go towards creating a single product, you know there are deep social connections between those manufacturers that go beyond financial considerations. Management and staff from the different companies will socialize together, and often their operations will be in close physical proximity to each other, leading to the mixing of families socially. This means there is not only an economic incentive to get it right the first time, there is also a social one. Do you want your company to be the one who makes a mistake, letting your three partners down? I don’t think so, and that social incentive to produce quality products goes a long way towards ensuring we have the best quality standards in the world.”
And of the challenges employers in the region face? “Number one would be encouraging people into the region. We need to actively promote the region as a place where people can have a good career and a good lifestyle. One of the blessings of living in this region is that, if you enjoy an outdoors lifestyle, it is so easy to get out of the cities. From my office here in Nagoya, in one hour I can be on the beach in Chita, or in about an hour and a half I can be walking a mountain trail in Gifu or relaxing in a rotenburo (outdoor hot spring), or in two hours I can be on the Japan Sea coast in Fukui enjoying the freshest seafood; what more can you ask for? Our challenge now is to convince Japanese from outside the region that this is a great place to live; it seems the foreigners already know! Industry has been very successful attracting foreign employees to the region; we have large numbers of Chinese, Koreans and other Asians, over 80,000 people from English speaking countries, and we have the highest population of Latin Americans in Japan. I would venture that we are on the way to becoming the most multi-cultural region in Japan. These are exciting times for Aichi and the Greater Nagoya region!”
I-BAC offers services at no charge to foreign companies seeking to establish a business presence, or to source business partners, in the Aichi region. They are based on the 11th floor of the Nagoya Chamber of Commerce & Industry Building, 2-10-19 Sakae, Nagoya. web: www.i-bac.jp