Friday, 12 June 2009

Geography - Japan Miricle (Heavy Industry)

(thanks for whom used my notes...) The heavy industry in Japan refers to: 1) Car industry – during Korean War in 1950s, U.S. ordered lots of army trucks from Japan which stimulates the growth of Japan’s car industry, the rapid increase on domestic demand also boosted the growth. Moreover, its overseas market has expended due to its reasonable prices. The production process is now computerized and automated. 2) Iron and steel industry – The iron and steel plant are large so that those integrated works can produce huge amount of iron and steel at a low cost, due to the economies of scale (when the profit is higher, the fixed cost of each product is lower.). It’s slightly decreased due to competitions from other countries. 3) Japan consists of four islands – Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, and also separated from other Asian countries by seas so ship is a important means of transport, and shipbuilding industry has a long history development in Japan. 4) Chemical industry, machinery industry, transport equipment industry and petroleum and coal refining industry are also important heavy industry in Japan. They contribute more than 80% of the total export value of Japan, and provide a source of raw materials for other industries for Japan. Raw materials affect the development of heavy industry in Japan a lot. Japan has a limited reserve of iron ore, copper, lead and zinc, and mostly scattered along coasts. In the past, heavy industry located close to the source of raw materials and fuels. Coal and iron ore deposits had a strong influence to the location of iron and steel plant. They located near those deposits to deduce the transportation cost. But now, local supply is nearly exhausted and can’t meet the demands of rapid development, and so those raw materials come from the importing from other countries. Therefore heavy industry now located mainly at eastern and southern Honshu and northern Kyushu, with following reasons: 1) Locating near shelter bay. It’s important to source of raw materials in Japan so that those imported raw materials can be protected. 2) Good ports with deep habours have been developed, are well-equipped and with modern port facilities. These facilities allow Japan imports raw materials and fuels and export finished goods safely. The distribution of heavy industry refers to: 1) High population density. Large population in cities provides abundant workers for factories, and those urban centers are also markets for finished goods. 2) Different types of heavy industry closed to each other. It’s called industrial agglomeration, which provides mutual benefits for the owners. e.g., by locating near the iron and steel plant, the car industry save the cost of transporting raw materials. Also, the cost of services required by heavy industries can be shared. Heavy industry needs huge amount of raw material and fuels, but Japan only has a limited supply, so she import lots of raw materials and fuels from others. (* holds the biggest share) Iron ore Australia*, Brazil, India and Philippines Coal Australia*, China and Indonesia Oil Middle east*, Indonesia and China On the other side, the aid of technology and government policy helps those industry a lot. Technological improvements help minimize the expenditure by reducing raw material and fuels needed in the production. Also the use of scrap iron further reduces the need for iron ore. Dumped cars and scraped iron can replace some of the iron ore. Energy-saving devices reduce the use of fuels. Improved transportation technology lowers the cost of importing raw materials and fuels. All of the above technologies increase the competitiveness of Japanese goods. Also, production by machines (mechanization) is adopted and has the following advantages: 1) Work faster and run the clock – increase the efficiency. (efficiently) 2) Help to standardize production process → consistent quality 3) Less prone to human error → more precise (precisely) 4) Can do dangerous process such as welding. The following institutions were set up: 1) Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) (1949), planning industrial development every year, and set up guidelines based on the most up-to-date information for industrialists. Became the Ministry of Economy (METI) in 2001 to provide government leadership and assistance to increase industrial productivity. 2) The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) (1959) was set up to promote and expand foreign market of Japanese products. The government has regulations to control the import of manufactured goods and the quota and tariffs systems on imported good help protecting the local industries. Subsidies and low-interest loans are provided to the industrialists, and financial support is given for projects on researches and development. Japan government also invested lots of money in technological development of heavy industry; they’ve established many scientific institutes and research centers. Science cities are built for high technology industries. Tsukuba near Tokyo and Keihanna are examples. There’re still other factors affecting Japan’s industry. Positive factors 1) High quality work force. Good education system smooths the implementation of automation and computerization in production. They’re hard-working as well. 2) Development of alternative power resources. It reduces the import of fuels. Nuclear power, geothermal power and wave power are examples of alternative power resources. They reduce the reliance of importing fuels. Negative factors 1) Over-reliance on importing raw materials and fuels. Fluctuations in the prices of raw material and fuels directly affect the production cost; and Japan is vulnerable to disruptions in the world trade market. Conflicts between Japan and its importer affect the development of its industries, and insecure supply of energy could seriously affect Japan’s heavy industry. 2) Environmental protection policies. Heavy industries and power plants are major polluters which cause serious pollution problems on the early stage of Japan’s industrial development. Under the “Polluter Pays Principle”, they’ve to pay for its cost of polluting. Also they’re required to install pollution control equipment and energy-saving devices. All those increase their production cost. 3) Trade protectionism. Japanese products are well-known for the high quality and reasonable prices. e.g. their car are well-equipped and use friendly. As a result, trade protectionism arises and many countries impose quotas or tariffs on Japanese products. And this will affect its export value. 4) Many neighbouring countries such as China and South Korea have cheaper labour costs which lower production cost. Their technological improvements improve their quality of product and so Japan gradually lost its advantages. 5) The shifting to develop high-tech industries further declines her heavy industry. Recent developments - As to avoid effects on quotas and tariffs, Japan manufacturers move their assembly line to overseas market. - The export quantity and value of completed product decreased while individual parts and equipments increased - The government encourages the cooperation of heavy and high-tech industries.

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