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Series: Regional Revitalization (Part5) Promotion of “Tokai Vision: Creating the World’s Strongest Advanced Manufacturing Region” Kimito Shindo Director Policy Planning Division General Coordination and Policy Planning Department Chubu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry [Date of Issue: 31/March/2016 No.0253-1003]

Date of Issue: 31/March/2016

Series: Regional Revitalization (Part5)
Promotion of "Tokai Vision: Creating the World's Strongest Advanced Manufacturing Region"

Kimito Shindo
Director
Policy Planning Division
General Coordination and Policy Planning Department
Chubu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry

The Tokai Vision has been created with the aim of developing Tokai into the world's strongest advanced manufacturing region, and that vision is currently being actioned. Here I present an overview of the Tokai Vision and progress to date.


1. Introduction

The Tokai region is home to advanced clusters of world-leading manufacturing industries, first among which is the automobile industry, the wellspring of Japan's industrial competitiveness. As an economic zone, it accounts for just over 10 percent of Japan's total land area, total population, number of business premises, and regional domestic product, but that share rises to 25 percent when it comes to shipments of manufactured goods, with Tokai comprising Japan's only manufacturing zone.

At the same time, amidst such major social and economic changes as the ongoing globalization of economic and industrial activities and the shrinking of domestic markets as Japan's population ages and declines, if the region simply continues to follow its usual course, it could face the risk of industrial hollowing-out and declining competitiveness. Tokai's key challenges will be to further upgrade the existing automobile industry and to create a range of next-generation industries based on a foundation of advanced manufacturing.

"Tokai Vision: Creating the World's Strongest Advanced Manufacturing Region" is a regional growth strategy designed to keep the region at the forefront of world manufacturing into the future. It was developed by the Tokai Industrial Competitiveness Council, which comprises representatives from five prefectures and three cities (Nagano Prefecture, Gifu Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture, Aichi Prefecture and Mie Prefecture, and Shizuoka City, Hamamatsu City and Nagoya City), business (Chubu Economic Federation, Nagoya Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and academia (Nagoya University).

The various Council members, METI Chubu and other local branches of the national government, and relevant support groups in the Tokai region have instituted various support measures pursuant to the Vision, and are working steadily toward developing Tokai into the world's strongest advanced manufacturing region.

Here I present an overview of the Tokai Vision and progress to date.

2. Strengthening Tokai's four strategic industries and manufacturing 'mother functions'

The Tokai Vision identifies the automobile, aviation, healthcare and environmental industries as the region's four strategic industries and sets out to enhance these.

The automobile industry obviously forms the heart of the Tokai region, and the expectation is that it will continue to lead the world and capture growing and diversifying world markets.

The Tokai region has one of the largest aviation industry concentrations in Japan, accounting for approximately 50 percent of the national total for number of business premises, number of employees, and production value. The Tokai Vision aims to exploit this potential and grow the industry into Asia's top cluster up alongside developed Western nations.

Tokai also boasts a healthcare industry cluster, with medical equipment accounting for 25 percent of national production value, while the environmental industry cluster that has grown up concomitant with the development of the manufacturing industry has a real strength in its advanced environmental technologies.

In addition, the region is home to numerous supplier companies that have acquired strong manufacturing capacities by supplying components as part of the powerful supply chains operated by the automobile industry, for example.

The Tokai Vision identifies the manufacturing 'mother functions' created through partnerships and links among these company groups as an important pillar underpinning the strengthening of the four strategic industries, and directs that these be enhanced alongside the strategic industries. Unseen in Japan's various other regional growth strategies, this is the foremost feature of the Tokai Vision.

3. Using local resources to revitalize the local economy, developing the support environment

The Tokai region also has many attractive tourist resources (Ise Shrine and Hida Takayama, for example), strong agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, and numerous local and traditional industries like ceramics.

In the Tokai Vision, discovering and polishing these local resources and turning them into business in order to boost the region's appeal and stimulate the local economy is positioned as another main pillar alongside strengthening strategic industries.

The region will also address business environment development, including human resources, technology and industrial infrastructure, which will also provide a support environment for both strengthening strategic industries and utilizing regional resources in the context of the region's internationalization strategy.

4. Progress to date

Various initiatives are already underway pursuant to the Tokai Vision, a key example of which is promotion of the Composite Highway Concept.

Focused on carbon fiber composite materials, this concept entails the Tokai region as home to clusters of auto, aviation and other downstream companies partnering with the Hokuriku region where the upstream textile and machinery companies are clustered. A consortium has been formed of local public research organizations spearheaded by research facilities at Nagoya University, Gifu University and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology in order to provide a platform for R&D and human resource development that will meet the diverse needs of industry toward the ultimate goal of creating the world's pre-eminent industry cluster, handling all aspects from R&D through to production, processing and assembly. Since the Consortium was established in November 2014, government, industry and academia have worked together actively and steadily on a range of activities, including matching by specialist coordinators toward industry-industry and industry-university R&D and commercialization, interaction with companies and research institutes overseas, seminars on downstream user needs and technological development trends as well as observation tours of front-running molding and processing facilities, and the compilation and publication of collections of technology 'seeds' held by companies in and beyond the region.

5. Next steps

The Tokai Vision is accompanied by an Action Plan comprising more than 60 items designed to realize the Vision, and the region is working cohesively to verify and review these items on an ongoing basis to ensure that they remain effective.

Based on the Tokai Vision and Action Plan, METI Chubu too will continue to play an active role in strengthening the competitiveness of local companies and providing support for their expansion into other areas, as well as developing the support environment.

Details of the Tokai Industrial Competitiveness Council (including the Tokai Vision report and Action Plan)
(Japanese only)

(original article : Japanese)
(For the Japanese version of this article)


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