If companies could compete for Olympic hurdles medals, Japan’s track-tested, shin-bruised manufacturing sector would have fielded some of the most hardened corporate athletes in the recent Games.
Since the global economy imploded five years ago, Toyota , Sony and the like have faced a seemingly endless line of obstacles: slumping demand, an export-wrecking surge in the yen, an earthquake and energy crisis at home and floods at major supply hubs in Thailand. And the competition — from South Korea’s Samsung and Hyundai to a resuscitated US car industry — has become stronger all the while.
Yet recently, Team Japan has been divided by a performance gap. Carmakers, one of the two pillars of the country’s manufacturing sector alongside electronics producers, are pulling ahead. In the fiscal first quarter, every Japanese carmaker turned a profit and net earnings at all but one, Nissan, improved from a year earlier.Page 1 of 7 | Next Page