[Asian Steel Watch] Vol.4 (2017.12)
Featured Articles Learning from the Experiences of the Japanese Steel Industry in the Lost Decades
The experience of the Japanese steel industry which underwent a long period of sluggish demand might provide lessons for East Asian steelmakers as they navigate tumultuous times. In the supply chain connecting Japan’s steel-producing and -consuming industries, there exists a long-established order. They do not change existing suppliers or find new suppliers simply to save costs. Many Japanese steelmakers tolerate a rather high cost structure for a time and select steel materials through a long-term perspective, thus increasing the overall competitiveness of their own supply chains. They diversified their export targets from a focus on the USA to include Southeast Asia and other emerging markets. They also shifted their product portfolio for the US market to high value-added products in close cooperation between the public and private sectors.
From the late 1970s to the 1990s, restructuring occurred through two different methods: facility revamps and workforce rationalization. The industry attempted to increase its global competitiveness by enhancing economies of scale through integration and reducing redundancies via reshuffling.