Country Listing

Japan Table of Contents



The nation's industrial activities (including mining, manufacturing, and power, gas, and water utilities) contributed 46.6 of total domestic industrial production in 1989, up slightly from 45.8 percent in 1975. This steady performance of the industrial sector in the 1970s and 1980s was a result of the growth of high-technology industries (see table 21, Appendix). During this period, some of the older heavy industries, such as steel and shipbuilding, either declined or simply held stable. Together with the construction industry, those older heavy industries employed 34.9 of the work force in 1989 (relatively unchanged from 34.8 percent in 1980). The service industry sector grew the fastest in the 1980s in terms of GNP, while the greatest losses occurred in agriculture, forestry, mining, and transportation. Most industry catered to the domestic market, but exports were important for several key commodities. In general, industries relatively geared toward exports over imports in 1988 were transportation equipment (with a 24.8 percent ratio of exports over imports), motor vehicles (54 percent), electrical machinery (23.4 percent), general machinery (21.2 percent), and metal and metal products (8.2 percent).

Industry is concentrated in several regions, in the following order of importance: the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo, especially the prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Tokyo (the Keihin industrial region); the Nagoya metropolitan area, including Aichi, Gifu, Mie, and Shizuoka prefectures (the Chukyo-Tokai industrial region); Kinki (the Keihanshin industrial region); the southwestern part of Honshu and northern Shikoku around the Inland Sea (the Setouchi industrial region); and the northern part of Kyushu (Kitakyushu). In addition, a long narrow belt of industrial centers is found between Tokyo and Hiroshima, established by particular industries, that havw developed as mill towns. These include Toyota City, near Nagoya, the home of the automobile manufacturer.

The fields in which Japan enjoys relatively high technological development include semiconductor manufacturing, optical fibers, optoelectronics, video discs and videotex, facsimile and copy machines, industrial robots, and fermentation processes. Japan lags slightly in such fields as satellites, rockets, and large aircraft, where advanced engineering capabilities are required, and in such fields as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), databases, and natural resources exploitation, where basic software capabilities are required.

Data as of January 1994