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Multiple Discourse on Monozukuri as a Keyhole to View Modern Japan

Author: Noriya Sumihara

Source: Global Perspectives on Japan (GPJ), No.1 (2017), pp.67-77
Publisher: Forum Tauri Press
Keywords: Monozukuri, manufacturing, Japanese industry, Japan’s lost decades, nationalism


Monozukuri is an all-inclusive term that can refer to a range of concepts, from children’s toy-making to traditional crafts to the creation of advanced machinery. It can be used to describe the act of creation by any Japanese, regardless of generation or era of Japanese history. The emerging use of the term indicates a trend toward “nationalism” in Japanese culture as well as industry. One way to explain the sudden emergence and use of this term is to study the “lost” two decades after the early 1990s, in which very little economic growth was recorded, large companies collapsed, the unemployment rate soared, and the gap between the newly rich and the poor widened. As a result, many Japanese lost confidence in their country, in which a conventional style of work could no longer sustain its citizens. The term “monozukuri” emerged to counter an image of Japan in decline. This nationalistic campaign probably started with the government, and subsequently spread to mass media and industry. Monozukuri proved to be a powerful and symbolic term appealing to all generations of Japanese people.