Departmental Bulletin Paper Japan's "Car Island" : Evolution of Northern Kyushu Industrial Cluster in Light of the Changing Japanese Automotive Industry

IMBRES, Letizia M.  ,  YAHAGI, Hiroshi

5 ( 2 )  , pp.121 - 141 , 2016-03-14 , 龍谷大学政策学会
The car industry has been a leading industrial sector of Japan's economy since the second half of the twentieth century. However, its rapid growth over the last decades has sometimes overshadowed the fact that the industry has undergone substantial evolution since its establishment in the 1950s. Changes - mainly implemented through the continuous interplay between corporates strategies and central government's policies - have involved design- and manufacturing-related processes and operations, the carmakers' organizational structure, and the industry's geographical footprint both nationwide and overseas. Based on these premises, after providing basic understanding of the factors and conditions leading to the consolidation and development of the Japanese car industry in the pre-war and postwar decades, this working paper aims to investigate the triggers laying behind the evolution of northern Kyushu industrial cluster that, in the last years, has become to be known as Japan's "car island". In particular, attention will be drawn to those changing production-related, organizational and spatial features characterizing car companies and interfirm relations in Japan which led to the declustering of domestic manufacturers from historical core regions to peripheral areas such as Kyushu. In order to accomplish this task, research has been primarily conducted by the authors on the following categories : 1) agents of change ; 2) processes and operations (i.e. product development and manufacturing) ; 3) organizational structure (i.e. inter-corporate and corporate-supplier relations) ; 4) geography (i.e. global, national, local scales). Even if national and local government intervention in automotive industry-related matters has also been taken into consideration, further research is required.

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