Panel of judges

Real Message from a Judge

Individual technology is already first class. Elements appealing to sensitivity, which Japan has not been good at previously, and progress in integration into a large system have been added.

The period, when the 3rd Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award accepted applications, coincided with a serious depression and subsequent signs of fast growth in the environmental business from 2010, it seems many applications dealt with technology to solve environmental issues, such as energy efficiency, energy saving, and reduction of carbon dioxide.

Many applications were excellent from a scientific point of view, but I wondered if their proposals could really improve people's lives after going through engineering and manufacturing to become industries which will be established in a timely fashion. Since this award is intended to grant winners the "approval" to represent Japan and introduce their proposals at home and abroad, the screening panel discussed this point quite severely.

Research and development, the processes to enhance and refine current functions, such as improvement of production and processing steps, are Japan's specialty. One of each product, production technology and processing technology created in this way has already achieved a level of exceptional excellence. Ceaseless efforts by researchers and engineers engaged in Monodzukuri have contributed to forming the national image that "Japanese technology is safe and secure."

Now, while keeping these fundamental elements, what should Japan's "Monodzukuri companies" do next? I think there are three directions. 1. Besides product functions, seek extra elements focusing on "sensitivity" to make a product attractive enough to be introduced to the world; 2. Assure safety with overwhelming ability in technology; and 3. Beyond the quality management for each product unit, strengthen ability to control systems for a gigantic project.

Some winners this time have started moving in these directions and working on these areas. One of them has created a new market for high-class products with their unique cutting technology. Two winners worked together to create medical equipment which has explored a new area of operation for the first time in the world. The construction of a large plant in a desert has already had such a strong impact as to change the world energy map.

Japan is smaller than the state of California, where over half of American businesses in all industries are concentrated. In a sense, Japan is an abnormally industry-concentrated country. I frequently visit regional companies for coverage. From time to time, I was surprised to see executives from leading world companies on their way to small- and middle-sized companies deep in the mountains. I think we should be more aware of this fact.

I am very pleased to learn that, stimulated by this award, regional cities have recently seen a movement to establish their own award system for their local "Monodzukuri companies" through concerted efforts among industrial, administrative, and academic organizations, as well as financial institutions and media. I think this award is of great significance in that it encourages many people to make an effort to explore an excellent company so as to introduce their products and technology to the world.