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Date of Issue:1/February/2008

2007 IIST -Asia Industrial Tour in Aichi

Ms. Bahria Mohd. Tamil
Minister Counsellor
Commercial Affairs
Embassy of Malaysia

Aichi is one of the most important industrial areas in Japan, having played a central role in the evolution of industrial technology.@As such there are many important industrial heritages which are worth to visit and see. Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST) organized a tour, IIST-Asia Industrial Tour in Aichi - Heritage of Industrial Modernization, from 27-28 November, 2007 to provide Asian diplomats stationed in Japan the opportunity to learn unique industrial development process in this region by visiting these industrial heritages and some other industrial sites. Twelve diplomats from the Tokyo embassies of 12 Asian countries took part in this tour, which was held with the cooperation of the Chubu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry.

My first participation in the Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST)-Asia Industrial Tour in Hokkaido has been a very enriching experience. It has provided me with firsthand knowledge of Hokkaidofs economic and industrial profiles and it has also allowed me to build my professional network with the local officials and business community of Hokkaido.

IISTfs well-coordinated study tours provide a good platform for diplomats based in Japan to deepen their understanding of Japanfs economic sectors. The tours provide ample opportunities for diplomats to network and exchange information among themselves, and with local officials and business communities.

When I received the invitation to join the IIST-Asia Industrial Tour in Aichi - Heritage of Industrial Modernization, I was excited to be part of the tour. Aichifs capital, Nagoya and its surrounding suburbs make up the Chukyo Industrial Region which is Japanfs third largest industrial concentration. Aichi has played a prominent role in the evolution of industrial technology in Japan, producing ceramics, textiles, automobiles and aircrafts. My understanding of the economic and industrial activities in Aichi would be very beneficial.

I am pleased to state that I believe that my joining the IIST-Asia Industrial Tour in Aichi has allowed me to achieve this.

The visits to Horikawa Canal and Nagoya Port, Noritake Garden, Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, Mitsukan Museum of Vinegar and Denso Takatana Plant in Aichi have enhanced the participantsf knowledge about the unique industrial development process, industrial heritages and modern industries in Aichi. The participation by five experts on industrial heritage, Mr. Keiichi Shimizu (from Japan), Professor Louis Bergeron (from France), Mr. Hans-Dieter Collinet (from Germany), Dr. Anke Kuhrmann (from Germany) and Mr. Keith Falconer (from United Kingdom) has provided an invaluable opportunity for constructive exchange of information.

The visit to Horikawa Canal and Nagoya Port Cruise was made more informative by the briefings by Mr. Tadashi Ohashi and Ms. Makiko Akasaki, assisted by Mr. Oliver Mayer. The participants were informed that Horikawa Canal was excavated four hundred years ago during the construction of Nagoya Castle. The cruise provided useful insight into the importance of preserving industrial heritage sites like Nayabashi Bridge (built in 1913), Matsushige Lock Gate (built in 1930), Shiratori Lumberyard (built in 1610), Mitsui Warehouse (built in 1954), railway drawbridge (built in 1927) and the levees made of artificial stone. The participants were also informed that Matsushige Lock Gate has been designated as municipal tangible cultural property of Nagoya City due to its significance as an industrial heritage.

I enjoyed the visit to the Noritake Garden. Here, the participants were introduced to the birthplace of the modern ceramic industry. We were brought to the red brick building, the first factory of Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha which was built more than one hundred years ago in 1904 (and continued to operate until 1975). It symbolizes the history of western-style dinnerware in Japan. In the Craft Center, the tour participants were accorded the opportunity to see firsthand Noritakefs expertise and technology, from pottery making to china painting. I was very impressed by the fact that Noritake has been able to attract young visitors to the Noritake Garden and thus, invoke early interest in the Noritake industrial heritage. Noritake Garden provides various interesting zones with activities for young visitors especially in Canvas - Morimura-Okura Museum, an attraction within the Noritake Garden.

The visit to Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology was my personal favorite. In entering the museum, all visitors will be welcomed by the message of the founder, Mr. Sakichi Toyoda on the importance of being gStudious and Creativeh. The participants were informed that this message is displayed to encourage the young visitors to always persevere and be creative, as well as to encourage them to create new things. I was surprised to learn that the present automobiles company Toyota was formerly a spinning and weaving company. In fact, the museum is located at the factory of the former Toyoda Spinning & Weaving Co. Ltd.

During my tour of the museum, I could see that the young visitors enjoyed the activities planned, especially the activities in Technoland where they can experience the theory and mechanics of machines in an enjoyable setting. In this area, the young visitors can build simple machineries with building blocks of sensor circuits, experience human powered pedal cars or be challenged with strong wind generated by a big fan. The young visitors are also provided with a free workbook of the museum. Assisted by this workbook, the young visitors could compile interesting information from the historical zones like Textile Machinery Pavilion and Automobile Pavilion (most of the machines on exhibit in the museum allow hands-on operation). I believe they have benefited much by having the workbook as a guide. Later, I was also informed that the museum allows elementary schools free access to the museum, making the museum a favorite spot for elementary schools. I hope to be able to introduce this aspect later on in Malaysia.

The tour also visited the Museum of Vinegar Su-no-sato in Handa City, the only vinegar museum in Japan. The participants were briefed that the museum started in 1986 and is located in the cellar in which the founder made vinegar from sake lees, instead of rice for the first time in 1804. During the visit we were also briefed on the ancient and modern methods of vinegar making by the Mitsukan Vinegar Company, which produces over seventy per cent of the vinegar in Japan.

The end of the tour brought the participants to the Denso Takatana Plant where we were able to observe the making of car components, meter and navigation displays. At Denso, we were shown how design, production and material engineers work side by side with technicians to develop Densofs products as well as the machines that make them. The participants were also briefed on Densofs human resources programme to build the expertise of workers in Denso. The officials of Denso were proud to state that they do not have the problem of human resource shortage that is being faced by other factories in Japan.

I believe I can speak on behalf of all the participants in saying that the Industrial Tour has been an invaluable experience to all of us, not only in terms of knowledge and contacts gained, but also in terms of the networking and constructive exchange of information.

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