Japanese exporters are creating a niche for themselves in international export markets by focusing on the growth and development of the local Japanese market. The strategy adopted by Japanese exporters is two-pronged: to build long-term relationships with their clients, and to focus on developing new export markets. In the past few years, Japan has diversified into exporting various types of goods, mainly agricultural products, machinery and vehicles, chemicals, petroleum, and several high-tech goods. Most recently, however, Japan has focused its efforts on establishing itself as a global leader in exports of automobiles and other automobiles – currently the largest exported product category in Japan. Automobile companies from China and India are vying for the Japanese automobile export market, and there is a fierce battle going on for the share of this huge but still relatively untapped market.
One way that Japanese exporters have leveraged the country’s labour force is by utilising overseas outsourcing as a tool for boosting competitiveness. Overseas labour force – both skilled and non-skilled – is another important factor in Japan’s economy, and companies are looking at all possible ways to attract these labour forces to their countries of origin. A major part of this strategy is the establishment of labour-intensive co-operatives and partnerships vietproud. Many Japanese car manufacturers have established joint ventures with foreign automobile companies to manufacture cars in Japan and then export them around the world. Some have also formed investment cooperatives to outsource some of their more labour-intensive manufacturing processes to low-cost labour nations like Malaysia and China.
Another aspect of the Japanese strategy to maximise the use of their labour is through the establishment of direct export offices in strategic destinations around the world. Japan has many free trade agreements with many of its neighbours, making it easy to send supplies and raw materials across the country’s borders. Some of these agreements, however, allow restrictions on the kind of labour that may be used. Japanese exporters are therefore particularly careful about the kind of labour that they bring in and the kind of labour that they keep on returning. They are particularly wary about employing Chinese or other labour in the manual labour areas that do most of the world’s labour-intensive production. These areas are a real problem because although China may produce goods as cheaply as Chinese workers, there is no question that they do not provide jobs of a quality comparable to those in Japan or the US.
The problem is that China does not usually supply goods of a high enough standard to justify reaping significant profits from their labour. Moreover, even when they do bring in enough labour to make a difference to Japanese export earnings, it is often lower than the kind of wages and conditions that can be found in Japan or Europe. As a result, many Japanese exporters find that it is necessary to supplement the income that they get from bringing in cheap labour with a lot of foresight and skill when it comes to the ways in which they use this labour. This skill is particularly important when it comes to the way that they organise the whole process of warehousing and shipping their goods overseas.
For many Japanese exporters, the way in which they have developed a logistics network that has all been designed to make their business more efficient is one of the major reasons why they are able to offer goods of such good price as well as at a relatively low cost. It is also a reason why these exporters can command a very attractive price for these commodities, because many of them simply do not need to maintain factories of any size. The fact that labour costs in China are much lower than in Japan means that many of the costs that companies in Japan have to bear are shifted abroad. This means that the Japanese end up with goods that have been made at a much lower cost and that have been shipped in a better shape than those that would be sold in China.
The way in which Japanese exporters have learned to maximise the efficiency of their supply chain is by learning from the mistakes of others. They have learnt early on that it is always better to overpay for good quality than to underpay for mediocre results. In other words, they have learned that if they cannot beat the prices that are charged by the major global brands then they might as well try to make their mark in the industry on the cheap as possible. This has led them to develop contacts with other countries where cheap but high quality goods can be found, in order to find out how they can make the same savings in manufacturing and shipping by using local labour. Some of the goods that have been successfully exported from Japan to other parts of the world include machinery, vehicles and medical devices.