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 Hokkaidofs economic and industrial profiles and it has also allowed me
to build my professional network with the local officials and business community
IISTfs well-coordinated study tours provide a good platform for diplomats
based in Japan to deepen their understanding of Japanfs 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. Aichifs capital, Nagoya and its surrounding suburbs make up the
Chukyo Industrial Region which is Japanfs 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 participantsf 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 Noritakefs 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 Creativeh. 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 Densofs products as well as
the machines that make them. The participants were also briefed on Densofs
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.
Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST)
2nd Floor, Toranomon Jitsugyo Kaikan
1-1-20 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan