Fifth CLMV Leadership Program
International Affairs Division
Shikoku Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
The Shikoku region was visited on 6-8 December by middle-level leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), who had the opportunity to experience Japan not as the economic superpower usually envisaged by foreigners but rather a place that harmonizes industry and the natural environment.
When these leaders visited the Shikoku Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry, they noted during the discussion that the Japanese do a lot of considering and are slow to make decisions. Growing at a remarkable pace, the countries of Indochina are regarded as strong candidates to become the next world growth center, and this observation from our visitors made it very clear that if Japan wishes to utilize that economic growth to promote its own economic advance, we too will have to learn to make quick decisions and take prompt action.
I was also impressed by the detailed and eager questions put by the members of the visiting group in their drive to support their countries’ economic development. At the exchange meeting with foreign students arranged by Kagawa University too, students and CLMV government officials in particular engaged with each other very positively, with the foreign students enjoying a very valuable experience as a result.
Here I would like to provide an introduction to the Shikoku companies and universities which the members of the 5th CLMV Leadership Program visited, as well as to the particular features of the Shikoku region.
The ‘rice power’ project which Yushin Brewer Co. has undertaken to develop and utilize rice extracts has enabled the company to transform itself from a traditional sake brewery into a biotechnology company making cosmetics and other skincare products.
Yamato Manufacturing Co. not only makes noodles and noodle-making machines but has also developed a wide service range, including a noodle school.
Among the many products manufactured by Les Gants Co.,Ltd. are the gloves beloved by many professional baseball players and famous golfers.
Kagawa University has formed a consortium with local firms to develop human resources from the perspective of Japanese food safety.
Kamada Soy Sauce Inc. makes the tsuyu dipping sauces and soy sauces that support the udon noodles which are a mainstay of Kagawa’s traditional food culture.
The Shikoku region is also home to companies making everything from medical transfusions to blood-sugar level sensors, vaccines against seasonal influenza, precious metal materials for dental purposes dentistry, materials for functional foods, sanitary goods, towels, gloves, ships, LEDs, liquid crystal polarizing film, separators for condensers, protective materials for solar cells, lithium ion batteries, reverse osmosis membranes, large-sized acrylic panels for aquariums and no vibration/no noise construction work systems. Shikoku also accounts for around 10 percent of Japan’s vegetables, fruit and marine fisheries. The region has extensive forestry resources, boasting the highest national rate of forest coverage.
While in terms of figures, Shikoku represents only around three percent of Japan’s population and GDP, Shikoku’s products and services underpin both the Japanese and global economies.
At the same time, Shikoku has been the first region in Japan to face the challenges of population decline and the graying of society. More specifically, the region’s population peaked 20 years earlier than the national population and is currently declining. The ratio of the population 65 years and above is also increasing at a pace 10 years faster than the national average.
Because the same problems will become marked in other places around the world in the years to come, we plan to use them conversely as an opportunity to position ourselves as a forerunner in finding solutions.
In terms of offshore expansion, the Shikoku Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry has established a Shikoku SME offshore expansion support forum in conjunction with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and the Shikoku branch of the Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan (SME Support, Japan). To promote Japan’s economic development, we need to work to open up sales channels offshore in the CLMV countries from which our recent visitors came, as well as the rest of rapidly-growing Asia. We look forward to continuing to work with JETRO and SME Support, Japan to help local companies enter offshore markets.
Finally, I must again thank the Institute for International Studies and Training for providing this chance for exchange between the CLMV countries and Shikoku. We are also deeply grateful to Yushin Brewer Co., Ltd., Yamato Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Les Gants Co., Ltd., Kagawa University and Kamada Soy Sauce Inc. for their cooperation in the program over the busy year-end period.
• The 5th CLMV Leadership Program in Japan (FY2011)
(original article : Japanese)