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What can we learn from ‘Made in Japan’?

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BEIJING – The Japan-South Korea trade friction revealed that South Korean companies, even though they have dominated the semiconductor market for many years, still need Japanese suppliers in the semiconductor industry. That means Japanese companies can easily exert pressure on the Korean giants. Has the world been underestimating Japan’s companies — not to mention the country’s economic strength and technological innovation? What can we learn from “Made in Japan”?

Above all, Japanese companies have abundant technical ability and technical reserves. There are many semiconductor giants in Japan. For example, Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd., which founded its business selling nitrogen fertilizer in 1926, specializes in the research and manufacturing of basic materials to meet market demand. It has even monopolized the crucial raw material market within the semiconductor industry today. Currently Shin-Etsu Chemical is the world’s largest supplier of silicon wafers and the largest silicone products manufacturer. The company is able to produce a uniform crystal structure of single-crystal silicon with a purity of 99.999999999 percent, which places it at the world’s leading technology level.

Shin-Etsu Chemical is not alone, however. Although Japanese manufacturing companies are gradually fading out in downstream industries — such as home appliances, smartphones and others — they still play key roles in upstream industries, including indispensable chemical and electronic materials, spare parts, and precision equipment, among others.

According to a survey conducted in 2018, Japanese companies ranked first in market share in 11 out of 74 target categories, including digital cameras, composite machines, motorcycles, CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) image sensors, polarizers, lithium batteries for mobile phones, and others.

Many of these parts are used in smartphones. Japanese companies such as Sony still continue to supply a wide range of key components, including touch screens and........

© The Japan Times