Monozukuri is a made up Japanese word that means making things or the process of manufacturing. It’s only been in use since the 1980s and goes a long way to explaining why the country is so good at …… making things.
The country’s carmakers are now benchmarked around the world and their suppliers have to meet the highest standards. Toyota president Akio Toyoda said: “Japan has a long history of making things and the skills are passed down generations.”
This extends, he added, to knocking down some ancient buildings and rebuilding them exactly as they were every few years so that crafts can be retained. It also means that suppliers and vehicle manufacturing plants around the world have to meet the same exacting standards.
Toyoda was speaking at the Mobilityscape conference in Tokyo, organised by the Japan Automobile Makers Association ahead of tomorrow’s motor show. It was a rare occasion on which the chiefs of the country’s five big carmakers, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi, share the same stage.
Nissan chairman Toshiyuki Shiga said the Monozukuri concept also goes beyond manufacturing explaining how the carmakers worked together to get the industry back on its feet after the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.
Vehicle production was halted for several weeks because the supply chain was hardest hit.
Nissan employees and those from other car companies were sent out around the country to help the suppliers rebuild their businesses.
Honda chairman Fumihiko Ike said this extended to his company’s operations in Thailand when the country was devastated by flooding in the same year. Honda workers there also helped to rebuild the supply chain.
Mitsubishi’s Osamu Masuko told the conference how the company’s operations in Thailand applies the same manufacturing principles as in Japan. It now exports to more than 140 markets including Japan and North America.
He added: “We provide the proper training to reach the same levels of quality that we achieve in Japan.”
However, Toyota’s chief, who is also president of JAMA, said he felt that Japan’s carmakers do not always get the credit they deserve while carmakers elsewhere are seen as innovators.
Toyota said: “Japan’s carmakers have responded to demands and created new technologies. We have also created investment and jobs. Also Japan is not the only place we call home, we provide jobs and help economies by building factories and supply chains all around the world.”