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Overconfidence in technology led to Japan firms’ misconduct: academic

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Overconfidence in technology and arrogance associated with it lies behind a series of misconduct that recently came to light at major Japanese manufacturers, an academic who was formerly in the country’s manufacturing sector says.

“I think there was an attitude (at the companies) that made them believe it’s okay to slack off a little because the quality of Japanese products are high,” said Atsushi Osanai, a professor in the business school at Waseda University in Tokyo and a former Sony Corp employee.

His remarks follow revelations that Mitsubishi Materials Corp subsidiaries falsified data for products supplied to over 200 firms for use in automobiles and aircraft in a scandal similar to that at Japan’s third-largest steelmaker Kobe Steel Ltd. Automakers Nissan Motor Co and Subaru Corp have also admitted that product inspections were carried out by uncertified staff.

Osanai said business models at Japanese automakers and electronics firms have “yet to be converted to match the changes of the times” such as a rise in Chinese firms, and it worked as another factor leading to irregularities at the firms.

“The Japanese automakers and electronics firms used to be able to increase profits just on the strength of their technologies, but they can no longer win in competition with Chinese and other foreign firms only with technology,” said Osanai, who spent 10 years working at Sony prior to becoming an academic.

“As a result, the Japanese companies were pressured to reduce employees and implement excessive cost-cutting measures, and it probably led to the misconduct,” he said.

Tsutomu Yamada, a market analyst at Securities Co., echoes the view that cost cuts were behind the scandals.

“(These scandals) resulted from the companies overcutting fixed expenditures during the 20-year-long deflation in Japan,” Yamada said.

Some critics say the data falsification at the Mitsubishi Materials units could offset the favorable reputation the parent company earned last year when it concluded a settlement agreement with Chinese groups that had been negotiating compensation with the Japanese company over its use of forced labor during World War II.

The document covers 3,765 Chinese, the largest number of people subject to a Japanese company’s postwar compensation.

As the scandals have surfaced one after another over the recent months, members of the public have voiced concerns whether the misconduct is rampant in the country’s manufacturing industry.

Industry minister Hiroshige Seko said Friday in a press conference, “It’s important for the whole of the manufacturing industry to share the (recently revealed) problems.”’-misconduct-academic


November 27, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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