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Japanese manufacturers set sights on U.S. market

Japan’s manufacturing industry, with its many players, both big and small, assert a huge presence in the world economy. These manufacturers have long recognized the importance of the U.S. market in their expansion plans.

Showa Precision Tools produces stamping dies and batteries used by some of the leading industries in Japan, such as automotive, electronics, medical equipment and food. The company deals with Japanese customers in several countries in Asia and the United States. Showa wants to further expand its reach through the creation of a subsidiary or a sales office to promote its brand and, later on, build a manufacturing facility in the country.

With Showa Precision Tools President Shigeto Kida

As part of its expansion, Showa is focusing on Japanese companies and American manufacturers in the country. To complement that effort, it also participates in in trade shows and exhibitions.

“As a small company, there are many hurdles if we want to enter the United States by ourselves. So, we would like to find good partners and do business together. We want to mix American and Japanese strengths and hope to be able to manufacture tools in the United States some time in the future,” explained Showa Precision Tools President Shigeto Kida.

Another Japanese manufacturer eyeing the American market is Maruwa, which produces ceramics for electronics. Aside from electronics components, Maruwa also caters to makers of quartz glass and LED lighting. Because of its reputation and expertise in its field, it has enjoyed steady growth in Asia, the EU and the United States.

Interestingly, Maruwa’s customers in the United States and the EU are non-Japanese, unlike those of the other Japanese companies that are expanding overseas. The company realized that its strength lies is in understanding the local market, targeting the right customers (regardless of nationality) and supplying what they need.

With Maruwa President Sei Kanbe

“We have to partner with a reputable American company. But the important point is to make a positive contribution in the US. We need to create a relationship with the locals on top of making the company grow and keeping the staff happy,” said Maruwa President Sei Kanbe.

Meanwhile, semiconductor manufacturer Teikoku Taping System sees great potential in expanding in the United States and the EU markets, especially in the areas of IoT and automotive. Its goal is to sell their products to local companies that need advanced and new technologies from Japan. While other companies may look to reduce their costs, Teikoku concentrates on product quality to attract more clients in large progressive markets, like the United States and the EU.

“If everything is the same, we can go out of Japan because it’s cheaper. But we remain in Japan because we are after the technologies and resources to create solutions for more challenging problems,” said Teikoku Taping System America President H.C. Lee.

Teikoku is one that highly values service and transparency between business partners. It commits to its clients through constant communication and face-to-face interactions. While product development is a priority, the company wants more to building strong relationships with its partners.

“We are committed to be in the U.S. market for the long term. We are small but we are contributing with our technologies. I am very proud of my product. Also I’m very proud that we can commit to customers with our products. We are true suppliers,” Lee said.

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Japan 2017, Part 2 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

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