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Asian Engineers / アジアの技術者たち

posted Oct 2, 2016, 7:37 PM by PARC Osaka University   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 4:40 PM ]
Whether it is academia or business matter, international exchange has great significance for young researchers and technical experts who bear the future.  Therefore, if you have any chance to visit foreign countries, please take a chance to challenge for your future.  I believe it will be your valuable experience.While I used to work for the former private company, I was in charge of technological development of the optical head for DVD at the company. In summer, 2007 (which was the follwing year of the product commercializing), the company planned to move the overseas base to a subsidiary company in China. Because of my experience I was assigned for overseas posting in Hong Kong and China for 3 years.

 After the Plaza Accord (the 1985 agreement of the G5 nations), the value of the yen had soared.  Many of Japanese factories were forced to relocate production overseas. Since products such as optical head required manpower for assembly process, due to a wage differential, we established a business framework (domestic technological development and overseas manufacturing).  The movie “Ah!the  Nomugi toge (1979)” though a  little bit old, (that is old Japanese story of the silk industry and the young girls who worked hard as silk spinners in a hot factory.)  We had many factories manufacturing domestically, however, most of them were closed and demolished to vacant lots.  This is just a changes of the times passing an era. Our next generation will have demands to reconsider about the future state of  Japanese company and the manufacturing industry.  We need to find an appropriate business field in Japan and hand it over to a new generation.  One of the solutions might be to develop the high value-added products with fine processing technology and the most advanced IT technological products which is the fusion of hardware/software.

 When I was working at a manufacturing factory in China, thousands of young work women in their teens and twenties lived in a dormitory in the factory site. They manufactured a new product, one after another with three shifts including midnight shift. They had a dance party every weekend, and enjoyed their work and life.  It looked hard circumstances for young girls to leave their parental home at an early age. To go home only on long holidays due to long distance and when sending most of their salary to parents.  However they were always neatly dressed and enjoyed their work and life at the factory locations.  Maybe their salary were enough to them. We were firmly resolved to develop and provide a new product continuously so that those young work women would not lose their job and their employment will be assured.

 The team I belonged to consisted of 100 and more of work women and 10 male staff members.  The ratio of Chinese and Hong Konger was 4 : 1,  the language was all English. (we could not follow in case they speak Chinese or Cantonese language.) Similarly, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, women did the same work among men. All worked through the night. I think Japan has gotten closer to this, but still very few female students study at Mechanical Engineering or Civil Engineering. For translation purpose, those who can speak Japanese are invaluable and helpful to us.  However, if we rely on too much on them, we might lose a chance of our own thinking and experiencing.  Therefore, “everything in moderation” is the key word, when asking others for help.

 In Hong Kong and Shenzhen, I had an opportunity of visiting an exhibition of electronic equipment.  The difference from CEATEC, Japan was that many small companies participated in an exhibition with a small booth.  Not like a situation where very successful big companies had great power, but all exhibition companies were equally challenging for the market.  I felt a great vital power for the future. In Taiwan, many companies started up businesses of semiconductor manufacturing, introducing used equipment.  I encountered a situation when the company looking for a purchasing company(in a good way) was negotiating M&A (merger and acquisition ) with a subsidiary company of my overseas posting. With more venture companies and investment companies, I am sure that there must be more chances for the nation to promote M&A (merger and acquisition) compared to Japan.

 Generally speaking, Chinese, including the above mentioned workers and staffs, are so friendly to Japanese. I was concerned about rising anti-Japanese sentiment when I heard that Chinese are taught so in a text book in China, however, it is only a matter of politics. Actually Chinese people, being eager to learn techniques and information from Japan, they try to contact with us to establish good relationship.I am sure that if we become friends, we will easily have interesting discussions about current educational status’. Actually I am so sorry that I could not have so many opportunities to communicate with local Chinese people, since I had several Japanese colleagues in the same team.  However, I made an opportunity to have dinner with local staffs once a week.  Therefore I think I could fully  understand how they like Japan and Japanese technology.

 I was relocated to overseas, aiming to market development of optical head, however, the situation was difficult due to the subprime mortgage crisis, the economic downturn precipitated by the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008, and the wave of cruel depression we had ever experienced.  In Japan also, we experienced hard times.  Some companies terminated contracts with temporary employees, whereas they could not dismiss permanent workers without good reason.Since our team failed in customer development, as company policy, not only factory workers、we were forced to dismiss one in four local staff.  Instead of advance notification, the target person was handed one envelop at the final day of the month.  I heard that the envelop include a letter of contract termination, a statement of accounts, and job recruitment information.  As you know foreign capital companies are very dry (business-like).  One of my subordinates (technical man) was forced to receive the envelop without notice.  I was intensely sad about his leaving, since he was working so hard with us from the beginning of the business.However, I am so relieved to hear that he overcame his hardship and set up his own trading company which deals with technical related products and doing well. We made vigorous efforts on the optical head business, however, we could not achieve the target earnings and we suspended the business in 2010. The member dissolved, and I returned to Japan and went back to research field.  We already decided that we would develop a new theme since our application had already been approved.  The optical head was not in much demand but we promised the  local staff and members to develop a new product and they would come back. 

 After that, the theme was suspended due to company’s change of policy, however, the reason of my continuously exerting myself is to realize our promise.Japanese technology, as it used to be, should become the world’s leading technology, competing with Western countries and aiming to develop new industry.  When I meet people in different countries on my business I strongly resolved to do so.  That is because I inherited the DNA from my ancestors since I was borne in a corner of Asia.

October 3rd, 2016
Dr. Giichi Shibuya
Research Associate
Division of Electrical, Electronic and Information Engineering,
Graduate School of Engineering,
Osaka University









澁谷 義一 博士研究員