Date : February 10, 2009
【Press Tour】Feb. 10, 2009:”Local Economy Defeating the Global Recession” Press Tour
post date : 2013.08.22
Undaunted by the recession with experienced craftsmanship and creativity ~world-class small and medium-sized companies in Saitama~
The wave of global recession triggered by the financial crisis in the United States has finally hit Japan. In both domestic and overseas corporations there are countless concerns over this recession such as temporarily or permanently closing their factories, and laying off temp workers.
However, many recession-proof internationally competitive and well-rated small and medium-sized companies are located in Saitama. For example, there are smaller companies which dominate the niche market with world-class advanced technology and day-to-day effort, and fast-growing companies with creativity and a strong belief in their craftsmanship.
On the tour we will have briefings by prefectural officials on the characteristic of business in Saitama Prefecture and various support measures for business. After the briefings, we will visit three unique companies in the prefecture.
The wave of global recession triggered by the financial crisis in the United States has finally hit Japan. Even Toyota Motor Corp., known as the most powerful manufacturer, will suffer operating deficits in the business year ending March 2009. In both domestic and overseas corporations there are countless concerns over this recession such as temporarily or permanently closing their factories, and laying off temp workers. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has announced that 8.5 million agency dispatch and temp workers will lose their jobs by the end of this March. In response to this emergency situation, the Japanese government announced an emergency economic package of a total 75 trillion yen. It includes 30 trillion yen of cash-flow support measures for small and medium-sized businesses, and incubation businesses. For its part, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) reduced its last October projection of 0.6% of Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) for fiscal 2009 to -1.0%, and BOJ’s report released on January 16 also shows the economic climate withered in all nine Japanese regions due to the rising yen andsluggish overseas economy. The harsh business prospects may continue depending on the future economic situation.
Thanks to the development of the Metropolitan Area Central Liaison Expressway (Ken-O Expressway), Saitama Prefecture has welcomed 360 enterprises of various industries, mainly manufacturing and distribution, in the three years since 2005. But successful Saitama Prefecture is deeply concerned about the decreased demand for automobile-related products affecting the employment conditions and the ability to attract companies into the prefecture. However, Saitama has also attracted many food processing companies, which fluctuate little with recession, and also distribution processing companies, with a combination of geographical convenience and a superior transportation network that responds to the adverse conditions of large fluctuations in steel and oil price. Many recession-proof internationally competitive and well-rated small and medium-sized companies are located in Saitama. For example, there are smaller companies which dominate the niche market with world-class advanced technology and day-to-day effort, and fast-growing companies with creativity and a strong belief in their craftsmanship.
On the tour we will have briefings by prefectural officials on the characteristic of business in Saitama Prefecture and varioussupport measures for business. After the briefings, we will visit three unique companies in the prefecture.
*The Foreign Press Center, the host, and Saitama Prefecture have co-organized with this press tour.
*Saitama Prefecture's home page:
1. Briefings on the support measures for small and medium-sized businesses by prefectural officials, and visit
Saitama Industrial Technology Center
Saitama Prefectural government has been working on an emergency economic package to improve the deteriorating employment situation influenced by a global recession since last year. The package is also focused on the loan system to help small and medium-sized businesses, and the government established the Saitama Emergency Employment Measures on December 22, 2008. The government quickly opened 100 counseling counters for small and medium-sized companiesthroughout the prefecture, and also started diverse supporting projects, such as financial support, management and technical assistance, exploring business opportunities, and improving the subcontracting system.
Saitama Industrial Technology Center was set up in 2003 with the aim of encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to enhance their technological development, and to encourage their international competitive strength. The center is equipped with a high level R&D and engineering system to help develop new technical capabilities and new products, and also to encourage academic-industrial alliance and venture business.
2．KEISWI Inc. (Hatogaya City）
In 1957 KEISWI Inc. started their business as a precision sheet metal processor specializing in makinginterior apparatus for airplanes such as Boeing and Airbus, and Shinkansen bullet trains. The company currently has 12 employees and has received a contract from JAL and ANA for making interior parts of the much talked-about Boeing 787, which is made of ultra-light and strong material, carbon-fiber composite.
In 2003 Mr. Keiichi Sugano, the president of KEISWI Inc., launched an original brand "AERO CONCEPT" producing briefcases and small goods such as card cases and key chains, taking advantage of his high skills in precision processing. Mr. Sugano soon received a high volume of orders from around the world because of his innovative ideas and high quality workmanship. Two years after launching AERO CONCEPT, his products appeared in 2005 Milan Collection, one of the most prestigious fashion shows. Soon after the show, he earned an even higher reputation, and not a few overseas celebrities became his clients. AERO CONCEPThas overseas agents in Italy, Russia and China and a contract is under negotiation in England, and on top of that, more than 10 countries including the United States and France have contacted Mr. Sugano for agent contracts. AERO CONCEPT has been offered a collaboration project by the third largest major kitchen producer in Germany as well.
However, Mr. Sugano did not have an easy path to reach this stage. He was once forced to shut down his factory due to the worsening business conditions of his client when the bubble economy collapsed in early 1990, and he even thought of committing suicide, he was experiencing such living hell. However, he overcame his difficulties with the support of many of his business partners who were attracted by his incomparable skills. Through a series of experiences Mr. Sugano decided to enjoy the rest of his life by making products which he himself would like to use as a customer. He adheres to his philosophy that he puts his heart and soul into his own brand, and never mass-produces for profit.
In December 2007 Mr. Sugano opened up a flagship store in a renovated 120-year-old traditional house in a hidden alley of Kyoto. He delivers "his beloved children" from Kyoto where the traditional Japanese touch still remains in an eclectic mix of the old and new culture. Mr. Sugano, a divine craftsman, passes on his philosophy to the next generation. "Fine products foster a rich humanity. People can learn how to respect their belongings by having priceless pieces of work."
On the tour Mr. Sugano will talk about the outline of his business and the future strategies for AERO CONCEPT. We will also have a chance to visit the factory at the end.
3．SUMITA Optical Glass, Inc. (Saitama City)
SUMITA has engaged in optical glass and optical fiber business as a pioneer company in this field since its establishment in 1953. As a result of their efforts to establish valuable processing technology to achieve high performance in optical functions, their optical glasses are used at the core of multimedia-related products such as DVDs all around the world.SUMITA dominates a market share of aspheric lenses, which are mainly used for digital cameras, and their optical fibers are used by world famous scope manufacturers for medical and industrial use in the latest products. SUMITA's products are produced in an integrated production, from the mixing of glass raw materials to the melting, cooling, manufacturing and commercializing. With their business spirit, "R&D is vital", SUMITA has been developing high quality and distinctive products.SUMITA's strength also comes from the fact that many of their clients such as medical, communications, and electric companies experience little fluctuation from recession.
The German company "SUMITA Optical Glass Europe GMBH" was established in 2005. SUMITA chose Germany because they thought they could share values of hard-working spirit with each other. Furthermore, SUMITA exports their products and technical skills to the United States, China, Taiwan, and South Korea as a major business partner. In 2006 SUMITA was chosen to the "300 vibrant Small and Medium-sized Enterprises" based on their high-level technologies by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
On the tour, CEO Masatoshi Sumita will be explaining how the world-renowned optical company was born and also the company outline and principles. Mr. Sumita will also take us on the factory tour.
４．Kyodoshoji Corp. Ltd., COEDO Brewery (Kawagoe City)
COEDO brewery produces five kinds of premium beer including their outstanding "Beniaka", which is made of Kawagoe sweet potato, a Kawagoe specialty. COEDO took out a patent for producing beer with sweet potatoes, a world first. In 2008 “Beniaka” received the grand prize, three stars at the International Taste & Quality Institute (iTQi), which is the superior taste award in Europe, for the second consecutive year. Four beers were also awarded two stars and all the five of COEDO's beers swept the awards of the worldwide-known "Monde Selection" in the beer section.
COEDO's base company, Kyodoshoji, which was founded in 1982, started as an organic food producer and distributor when hardly anyone took notice of the chemical-free food industry. The company made an entry into the beer business during the "local beer craze" after the revision of the liquor tax law in April 1994 to make good use of wheat, which they had been growing to prevent damage from non-stop rice production. After the short period of "local beer craze", COEDO breweryshifted from their tourist-oriented beer production to local production for local consumption. This is how their premium beer brand "COEDO" was born in 2006. They invited a craftsman from the home of beer brewing, Germany, in order to fully acquire his technical skills of making craft beer. The annual sales of all departments at Kyodoshoji reach 3 billion yen. COEDO brewery has increased beer production since last summer and started their business in Hong Kong. The brewery has been receiving some business inquiries from the United States, Australia, Taiwan, Russia and elsewhere.
On the tour Mr. Shigeharu Asagiri, the company vice president will give us a presentation on the company and show us the brewery. At the end of the tour we will also have a chance to taste their craft beer, and talk to the beer meisters.
【 Tour itinerary and application details 】
1. Itinerary (Tentative):
Tuesday, February 10
08:20 Meet at Hatogaya station, Saitama Railway
08:45-09:45 Visit Saitama Industrial Technology Center
Briefings on enterprise characteristics in Saitama and support measures by Saitama prefecture for small and medium-sized enterprises
10:00-11:30 Visit KEISWI Inc.
12:00-12:45 Lunch at Hotel Brillante Musashino
13:00-14:30 Visit SUMITA Optical Glass, Inc.
15:15-16:45 Visit Kyodoshoji Corp. Ltd., COEDO Brewery
17:30 Disperse at Ikebukuro station
2. Qualification: Bearer of Gaimusho Press ID card
3. Expenses: 1,500 yen per person including transportation (bus) and lunch
*FPCJ will inform the participants of payment methods, cancellation fee etc. later on.
- Expenses to Hatogaya station and from Ikebukuro station not included
*FPCJ will inform the participants of payment methods, cancellation fee etc. later on.
4. Participants: Limited to the first 10 applicants on a first-come first-served basis.
(Only one reporter and one photographer from each company, but two participants from each TV team will be acceptable.)
5. FPCJ Contact: Nozomi Suzuki, Kazuko Koizumi (Tel: 03-3501-5070)
(1) There may be some restrictions on photographing and filming at the tour sites. Please follow the instructions of the officials on duty.
(2) FPCJ will not be liable for any inconvenience, trouble or accident that might occur in the course of the tour.
(3) Please refrain from having any fermented food such as yogurt or Natto in the morning of the tour because we are going on the brewery tour.