Suffering Japan

For decades, Japan was the wunder-kind of the global economy. In the 1970s, Japan started a race to
the top, becoming the second-largest economic power in the world; today, it ranks third. The
Japanese introduced the modern Total Quality Management (TQM) approach, the famous zero-defect
concept and just-in-time deliveries.

Japan has become one of the most powerful global economic players. Two examples of its
success in the global economy are seen first of all in the automotive and the textile industries.
Even today, many of the inventions from the man-made fibers sector are developed and manufactured
in Japan. For instance, it took the industry many years to find out that the famous Alcantara
artificial leather is a nonwoven made of microfibers. The list of examples could be extended almost

Those times are long gone: Today, Japan is suffering from heavy crises, most of all in the
automotive industry, which has had to initiate more than one recall for faulty cars. But that is
not all: Last year, Japan was hit by the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, provoking another economic
tsunami over the Land of the Rising Sun. Political queries haven’t helped to solve the problems.

For the time being, the national liabilities are already more than double the annual gross
domestic product (GDP). For decades, Japan exported much more than it imported. In December 2012,
the export values were 953.4 billion yen below import values, and in November, they were 548.9
billion yen lower.

A few weeks ago, new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a new support package of
10.3 trillion yen to get the country out of its crisis. Shinzo is convinced that this will increase
the GDP by 2 percent and generate 600,000 new jobs. This program is the largest since the start of
the financial crisis in the autumn of 2008. The package should encourage the communities and
private sectors to start more investments, generating a total boost of some 20.2 trillion yen.

The next weeks and months will show whether this program has enough grip to be successful.

Textile World Asia
was going to press, Japan’s neighbor and competitor China published its latest GDP
figures, showing an increase of more than 8 percent compared to last year’s GDP.

January/February/March 2013