Japan has been exceptionally successful in the international marketplace in such industries as automobiles, consumer electronics, machine tools, and motorcycles. This success has not been matched in the worldwide commercial aerospace industry, where Japanese companies lag far behind leading firms in the U.S. and Europe. This paper examines the factors affecting Japan's commercial aerospace industry and the strategies Japanese firms are pursuing to effectively compete internationally.
In this essay, I examine the role of Japan in the global aerospace industry by using the theoretical framework set forth by Porter in his books The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990) and Competitive Strategy (1980). Section 1 of the essay describes the global nature of the aerospace industry and analyzes the structure of the worldwide aerospace industry by investigating the competitive forces identified by Porter which determine competition in any industry. In Section 2, I examine Porter's four determinants of national advantage in relation to the Japanese aerospace industry. Section 3 describes the characteristics and structure of Japan's aerospace industry. Section 4 discusses Japan's key strategies to succeed in the global aerospace industry. In Section 5, I focus on the characteristics of three key international collaboration projects in which Japanese companies participate. The final section provides conclusions and some predictions.
The aerospace industry includes companies involved in the manufacture and servicing of planes, engines, helicopters, space equipment, and missiles. Demand comes from two sources: commercial companies and government defense-related activity. This paper will focus on the commercial aerospace industry, primarily airplanes and engines. However, the paper will discuss certain military expenditures by governments which have an effect on commercial aerospace capabilities.
Although the manufacture of rockets and other space equipment is part of the aerospace industry, there will be little discussion in this essay of this industry segment. Japan spends only about 1/8 of what the U.S. spends (Nakamoto 1996), and almost all demand comes from the government rather than the commercial market.
All amounts shown in this paper in Japanese yen (¥) have been converted
to U.S. dollars ($) at a rate of ¥120/$1 for comparison purposes.