Panel of judges

Real Message from a Judge

Unique environment where people coexist while competing, very rare in the world. The tradition in our manufacturing industry is the root for Japan's unique monodzukuri.

I have visited all the thirty-seven factories awarded the prizes this time and realized again, "These people are really interested in manufacturing of products". Our country has many good manufactures for the various basic fields including the manufacturing of parts, which are no longer assessed highly in other advanced countries, and also for cut-edging technologies. This industrial structure can be likened to Mr. Fuji, having the wide foot and the high peak. In this case, the wide foot stands for the basic fields, and the peak for the cut-edging technologies, and I think that this structure is the essence of "monodzukuri" in Japan. I also think that this unique structure is based on the Japanese tradition, which values the idea of "only one" more than that of "number one". This tradition is opposite to the idea of "number-one" in the advanced European countries and the U.S. where only a handful of top executives monopolize the profits. Why do we have this unique tradition?

Actually to become the number one, we do not need to have the top quality or performance. We only have to beat our rivals and give our consumers no other choice. However, that is not the case with Japanese craftsmen and manufactures even in the Edo period. They tried to brush up their skills and manufacture their products based on their own ideas in order to differentiate them from those of their rivals. As a result, high-quality products were manufactured one after another in the same field, and each product was favored by "specific customers". The craftsmen brushed up their skills further to meet the strict requirements of those customers while those who were not trusted by customers disappeared. In this way, Japan has produced its unique manufacturing industry and the market where "people coexist with others while competing with each other", and this is a very rare social structure in the world.

However, is this method not useful any longer today when a global economy is expanding? Certainly not. Japanese parts, materials and semi-finished goods are used for many industrial products in the world, such as LCD televisions, Boeing 787 going into service soon and Nokia's mobile phones, which boasts the top share in the world. With the Japanese tradition and customs which people in the advanced European countries and the U.S. cannot understand, Japanese manufacturers in any field manufacture their products honestly and their good records have obtained trust of people, setting the de facto standards in the world.

Evidently, the winners of the awards this time have inherited this traditional spirit that values the trust of customers the most, not the immediate profits. In this country, "monodzukuri" is the "hitozdukuri" (personality development) that forms people's characters and view of life. We should strive earnestly to hand down this tradition to our next generation. If a child says boastfully, "That car was manufactured by my father!", it encourages his or her father, namely any engineer, the most.