Interview with Akihiro Nikkaku

Akihiro Nikkaku
Akihiro Nikkaku
Toray Industries, Inc.
Toray Industries, Inc.

China is a superpower in the volume of fiber production. But in near future, China will also come to follow us...
Toray is an integrated chemical industry developing its business in 23 countries and regions worldwide, with a head office in Japan. The expansion is in fibers and textiles, plastics, chemicals, carbon fiber composite materials, environment and engineering, life science and IT related products. The group has received the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry's Advanced Technology Award for "R&D on high cycle integral molding with carbon fiber composite materials." Besides, the company has obtained "Eco-Mark" accreditation for the acrylic fiber TORAYLON. Akihiro Nikkaku is serving as the President, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Representative Member of the Board in Toray Industries, Inc. He Joined Toray Industries, Inc. (Shiga Plant) in 1973. His erstwhile titles include Director in 2001 and Vice President (member of the board) in 2002. Moreover, he entitled as Senior Vice President and Executive Vice President in 2006 and 2008 respectively. He completed his school of engineering from the University of Tokyo in 1973. In an exclusive interview to Face2Face, Akihiro Nikkaku, talks about key industry trends with growing technology and innovations in the textile industry.

How has the Japan earthquake and Thailand floods catastrophe affected the fiber and textile industry globally and in the Asian markets? Also tell us the idealistic situation globally now.

Under the influence of an earthquake, manufacturing in Japan was stagnated, which further dampened consumption. However, in consequence the material supply from Japan was stopped, this led manufacturing in the global supply chain stagnated. After the earthquake, economy had been sluggish temporarily from April to June. But since July, the recovery of the supply chain has been progressed quickly than expected. Now, we can expect the demand of recovery after the earthquake. Owing to floods in Thailand, our factory stopped its operations, as well our customer's plant (for an example automobile or home electronics, and so) had stopped too. In that situation, we were able to minimize the damage with our ample efforts in global supply chain.

How far is the global road-map of sustainable environment efforts for low-carbon and recycling operative for business development and for Research and Development (R&D)?

Since April last year, our company is promoting medium-term management program “Project AP-G 2013” for three years (from 2011 to 2013). In that program, we are promoting the “Green Innovation Business Expansion Project”. Its is a wide project of the company where we will use its strength in chemistry to develop “Green Innovation Businesses” on a global scale to provide solutions in an environmental, energy and resource issues, towards the independence from petroleum resources and the realization of a low-carbon society. We expanded our carbon fiber business for the reduction of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, by weight saving for air-crafts or automobiles, water-treatment business, the material business for the solar cells or lithium-ion batteries or fuel cells. Besides we promote development of the new bio-based materials. And we have plans to expand our green innovation business to one trillion yen sales in around 2020 (equivalent to approximately 30 percent of consolidated net sales).

Is the step of adapting holistic approach towards environment, lifting move for the existing textile companies and in near future?

For the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG), we will promote development of technologies and products, and will increase sales with an aim to reduce GHG emissions, which can be achieved through the use of its products to 200 million tons per year around 2020. In addition, we aim to reduce 25 percent of GHG emissions in manufacturing processes by FY 2020 over FY 1990 in its operations in Japan.

What is the latest state-of-the-art and development swaying into the realm of textile and apparel sector?

In September last year, we succeeded to develop 100 percent biomass-origin polyester fiber, it is world’s first, by teaming up with an American company, Gevo. Last year November, we established a mass production technology in polyester filament type nano-fiber, a class of 500 nanometers’ (nm) in diameter. Mean while, we had succeeded to create not only the rounds cross fiber but also the triangular or the hexagonal cross-section the world's first.

With the span of time, textile industry has become one of the growing technological and innovation driven sector. How do you see its demand in the coming period?

The volume of synthetic fiber production is increasing in Asia such as China, India or ASEAN. Especially in China, it had been produced 28 million tons of synthetic fiber in 2010. It was equivalent to approximately 70 percent of the synthetic fiber's production of 42 million tons in the worldwide. On the other hand, the amount of fiber consumption per person annually is over 35 kg in USA, 20-25 kg in EU, 20 kg in Japan, but it is only 15 kg in China, five kg in Southeast Asia, three-four kg in India. And it has been said that there is a correlation with GDP per capita. Henceforth, with the development of an emerging countries' economy, increase in the fiber consumption is expected thereupon fiber and textile industry growth is expected at the global perspective.
Published on: 05/03/2012

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.

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