Annual Report

Annual Report 2007


Fiscal Year 2006
Industry Cooperation in the East Asian Region
- The Role and Potential of Japanese Businesses -
Research Committee Report


In the East Asia, country-to-country trade relationships have undergone drastic changes, as regional countries intensify their mutual economic dependency. The distribution of labor, in terms of country-to-country basis, has shifted from conventional vertical structure to more horizontal one, while within an industry the vertical structure prevails and further develops due to differences in added values and technological intensities. In view of such changes, the conventional discussion on industrial cooperation may not fully appreciate the tri-polar cooperative relationship developing among the industries of Japan, China and ASEAN countries, although fully cognizant of deepening economic mutual dependency among them.

This Research Committee studied the mutual relationships and dynamisms of industries in Asian Region, covering not only Japan-ASEAN and Japan-China relationships but also their relationships with India, which has booming economy in recent years. The Committee further examined the possible inter-regional cooperation among Asian companies, and tried to identify preferable types of projects that could be developed in the Asian region for the future.

During the fiscal 2005, the Committee reviewed and studied the current situation and possible challenges in various industries, including those of dyes, information technology, electronics, petrochemical, fiber and textile, and automobiles. The Committee also reviewed governmental measures in the fields of economic and industrial cooperation in East Asian region.

For the fiscal 2006, the Committee implemented further studies on the preferable ways of cooperation between a government and private sector, or cooperation within the private sector or an industry association, as well as inter-governmental cooperation. The following describes the outcome of this year’s study.

Summary of this year’s conclusions

In terms of regional trades in East Asia, inter- or intra- company trading dominates the scene rather than government to government trades. The consensus among the members of the Research Committee was that to coordinate actions between a government and private sector, or within industrial associations, or between private enterprises would be equally or even more important than to facilitate negotiation between governments. Taking this into account, the Committee identified the potentials of industrial cooperation under each selected theme.

The first type of cooperation would be to address challenges common in the region. For this, industries and governments need to overcome their differences in make-ups, each company must prevail over own business interests, and governments ought to develop well-designed system and institutions to address the issues.

The second type of cooperation would concern human resource development in the region. As Mikami paper referred in the Chapter 12 described, in rather blatant manner, Japan had fallen far behind other countries in admitting, educating and training foreign trainees from the Asian region. Certainly, the Government of Japan should initiate the development of a system to accept foreign trainees, but the private sector and individual companies could share some burden in view of human resource development within their respective industries. Moreover, it would be extremely important to coordinate and cooperate in actions of a government and the private sector. The Kojima paper referred in the Chapter 3 revealed how a government and private sector could actively introduce and incorporate a system that would accommodate with the needs of the United States, as exemplified in the case of IT software industry in India.

Third type of cooperation is a framework that allows mutually complimenting distribution of labor in each industry at the regional level, or enables reconciliation in case of the conflict of interests. Such framework, for which a government would play a central role, was addressed by Shinoda’s paper in the Chapter 10, in which he studied the case of Japan-ASEAN industrial cooperation (APEICC). The Yamachika’s paper in the Chapter 13 explored economic, industrial, and technological cooperation under each theme.

The Mine’s paper in Chapter 9 presented an indicative argument on the distribution of industrial cooperation between government and private sectors. He noted that the issues faced by chemical industry would no longer be the responses against trade disputes or dumping litigation, but more about how each entity would respond to the consumer groups’ demands for the resolution of environmental issues, .and how chemical industry and national governments in East Asia would cooperate with the GHS (Globally Harmonized System) proposed by the United Nations. In other words, the industrial associations rather than governments could take a lead in such responses, Mine suggested Similar argument could be said of fiber and textile industry as discussed in Chapter 8, In this Chapter, the author pointed out that the “Asian Chemical Fiber Industry Association,” established in 1996 under the initiative of private enterprises in Japan, completed the initial works on the survey of facilities in each nation, promoted the exchanges of views, and launched a program to address the most serious and common problems in the region, such as the issues of excess capacity, illegal copying of products (issue of protecting intellectual properties), and smuggling.