“Made in Japan” is a good buy now

Using a chainsaw to cut butter

This is a wise saying by Barry Commoner, an American biologist, to express the inefficiency of nuclear power generation. By the way, this topic is not about energy policies; don’t worry. I interpret the point of his saying is adequacy rather than efficiency. In terms of adequacy, our production may look to have a problem.

Excessive quality

Products are shrinking in size instead of a rise in price, to avoid backlash from the market.
Source of photo: Apology after Japanese train departs 20 seconds early [BBC News]

I think it would be quality that best features our products, but sometimes we have been faced with requests or advice, saying, “It’d be better to sacrifice quality a little bit to save costs.” Indeed, our production sometimes goes excessive: making a flush surface even in out-of-sight parts, for example. We, Japanese, may be always too serious to be sloppy and may have to be a little more permissive. As it is seen in the article referred above, the only 20-second delay of a train is subject to apology here in Japan.

Cutting butter makes chainsaws dull

Products are shrinking in size instead of a rise in price, to avoid backlash from the market.

What is the basis of our high product quality is strong technical capacity, or craftsmanship. A large thing will serve for a small one: our production could make low-priced and mundane things for which no special skills are required, but we would end up losing craftsmanship — chainsaws. It’s not only about techniques but also about morale. Different from machines, craft people cannot adjust themselves so easily like being in energy-saving mode for this; serious mode for that. They will lose their motivation and ambition.

Products are shrinking in size instead of a rise in price, to avoid backlash from the market.

In order to survive the market competition, it would not be product quality (even though it’s a little excessive) that we should sacrifice. We just need to keep on using our chainsaws adequately.

About the author:
Shungo Ijima
CONDE HOUSE General Manage of International Div.

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.