With head offices in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan Chemical Fibres Association (JCFA) was founded on August 19, 1948. JCFA, through its varied activities, is engaged in boosting the overall growth of the chemical fiber industry in Japan. Functional since 50 years, JCFA has been proactively acquiescent in representing industry’s opinions in the textile administration and in financial, taxational and other government policies. Born on May 4, 1952, Mr Masao Nishimura is the Vice President and Director General at JCFA. He is an alumnus of University of Tokyo in faculty of Economics. Post his graduation in 1977, Mr Nishimura began his professional career joining Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Having completed 13 years at MITI, in 1990, he took charge as Director of International Coal Policy Office, Coal Department, Agency of Natural Resources and Energy. From 1991 to 1994, he was First Secretary in the Embassy of Japan in Korea. During 1994, he was Counselor there, and also Director General in General Coordination and Policy Planning Department of Tohoku Bureau of International Trade and Industry. After two years, Mr Nishimura was entrusted the responsibilities as Director of Fiber and Spinning Division, Consumer Goods Industries Bureau, MITI. In 1997, he became the Director of Textiles Division, Consumer Goods, Industries Bureau, MITI. In 1999, he was Director of Planning Division, Public Utilities Department, Agency of Natural Resources and Energy; in 2001, Director for Policy Planning, Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office; 2002, Director-General, Kyushu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry; 2003, Director-General, Business Support Department, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency; 2004, Director-General for Small and Medium Enterprise Policy, Small and Medium Enterprise Agency; and 2006, Executive MD, the Japan Economic Foundation (JEF). It was in 2007 Mr Nishimura assumed the post of VP & Director General of JCFA. Currently, he is also discharging his duties as VP and Secretary General at Japan Textile Federation (JTF). In this interview with Face2Face team, Mr Masao Nishimura delineates the present state of chemical fibre industry worldwide, and the services of JCFA encouraging the sector's overall growth.
How had JCFA been instrumental in the prosperity of textile and allied industry of Japan and world over? What are the activities and services that it provides?
(1) In order to promote the development of the chemical fiber industry, we are using our efforts to reflect industry opinions in the textile administration and in financial, taxational and other government policies. For these purposes, we urge the government to revise or improve the relevant laws and regulations.
(2) We promote ties of cooperation with relative industries such as raw materials, textile manufacturing and apparel etc, to enhance the status of textile industries as a whole.
(3) We also provide needed information to governments and relevant international organizations who seek understanding of the position that Japanese industry actually holds in the international trade.
(4) We have also established contacts with countries viz China, Taiwan and other South East Asian countries for the purpose of promoting mutual understanding and trust, and to exchange information for the common interests. We also have had opportunities of meeting European and American industrial colleagues for the same purpose when necessary. In this connection, we have made a big contribution to establish the Asian Chemical Fiber Industries Federation in April 1996. The Federation was created to the effect that participating Asian chemical fiber manufacturers could share the common recognition about the future prospects of the chemical fiber industry in the world as well as in the Asian region within the framework of the market economy while establishing mutual understanding and trust among them.
JCFA has been functional in the textile industry since five decades. How does it read the present state of textile industry in Japan and world over?
Chemical fiber industry has pulled the high economic growth period during 1950 to 1960, as leading industry. But, during past 20 years, we experienced this period was followed by a decrease in exports and a sharp increase in imports because of the appreciation of the Yen after following the Plaza Accord of 1985, which caused our foreign trade to plunge into a huge net deficit and accelerated de-industrialization hollowing out the textile industry. Both the number of business’ establishments and the number of people employees involved in the Japanese textile industry have reduced to less than half of their early-80s level.
Even so, Japan’s textile industry’s presence in the economy remains quite large. It represents as much as 7% of the total manufacturing industry, with around 600 thousand employees. The industry occupies more than 10% of the business establishments in the total manufacturing industry, and the shipment goods to the value of 6,600 billion yen, accounting for 2% of the value of goods shipped by the total manufacturing industry. Also, we have formed textile manufacturing regions producing communities in many areas of our country, and they have substantial influence, particularly on local economies.
In Japan, sharp increase in textile imports has resulted in the import penetration ratio reaching nearly 90%. The chemical fiber industry has successfully exploited new markets for their chemical fiber products because it has energetically developed advanced technologies that would be adapted to the characteristics of markets. The mill consumption of fibers for apparel uses has shrunk rapidly but because tremendous efforts have been made to exploit markets for non-apparel items, non-apparel uses thus accounts for nearly three-fourth of the total mill consumption of chemical fibers.
The production of chemical fibres in Japan can be noticed to be reduced remarkably in a decade. Can you please enumerate the factors behind?
With the influx of imports, the Japanese textile production including chemical fiber has continued declining. In Japan, the sharp increase in textile imports has resulted into the import penetration ratio reaching nearly 90%, and the mill consumption of fibers for apparel uses has shrunk rapidly. In 2007, Chemical fiber production decreased by 1.3% from the previous year to 1.19 million tons, running behind the year-earlier level for seven years in a row. The scale of Japan’s chemical fiber production has decreased to lower than two-thirds of the recorded high annual figure registered in 1979 (1.86 million tons).
Under the difficult business environments in the past, the Japanese chemical fiber companies have promoted profit-oriented management on an individual company basis through 'selection and concentration', such as (a) globalization, (b) shifting their production to a small niche of a variety of luxury, differentiated and higher value-added products, (c) emphasis on growth fields such as non-apparel sectors, (d) withdrawal from unprofitable businesses, (e) spinning off part or all of fiber/textile business into a subsidiary company or a business division of a holding company, and so on.
As a result of these efforts, chemical fiber production has reduce remarkably but at the same time, many Japanese chemical fiber companies are now finally beginning to make profits.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.