Apr 1, 2013 - Mar 31, 2015
In recent years Japanese Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) engaged in monozukuri have faced increasingly difficult circumstances. Within a dramatically changing business environment characterized by contracting domestic markets, accelerated overseas expansion by big business, fiercer competition from emerging country businesses and increased demand from their economies, traditional Japanese-style production systems based on keiretsu (business groupings centered around a parent enterprise) are crumbling. Especially since the fall of Lehman Brothers, an increasing number of SMEs have sought new opportunities abroad, making management decisions and taking risks to establish overseas production bases, independent of large parent companies. Given the circumstances, supporting the growth of overseas business for monozukuri SMEs has become one of Japan’s highest priorities. October 2010 saw the launch of the Conference on Supporting SMEs in Overseas Businesses, chaired by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. This step was followed by the creation of a Framework for Supporting SMEs in Overseas Businesses in June of 2011, which established an “all Japan Team” to work in concert as a support system.
This research will offer timely and thoughtful input to these developments, and provide analyses and recommendations to impact policy and effectiveness. In particular, we will consider what policy measures and support systems Japan and its partner countries should adopt for Japanese SMEs to promote monozukuri successfully in East Asia and based on our analyses compile recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in Japan (including those engaged in economic cooperation).
Through a combination of seminars, domestic surveys and overseas field studies, conducted in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Institute of Research (APIR), a think-tank based in Osaka, our research efforts will focus on the following areas.
(1) Developing proposals for a future vision to promote Japanese-style monozukuri in Asia underpinned by analysis that includes the classification of SMEs according to their suitability for overseas production and the relevance of hollowing out theory.
(2) The analysis of policy measures and support systems for SME overseas business expansion, including those of central, regional and local government, and the compilation of good practices from government agencies and SMEs themselves.
(3) The creation of case studies drawn from field research conducted in Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries.