Today, I saw a new, and so far the finest specimen of Japan’s new export products: A car factory. Remember when the Nikkei wrote about a new Toyota factory in the Miyagi Prefecture with a U-shaped assembly line where the assembly time is cut down to a third? Not only did they get it wrong. They missed the best part of the story: Budget car factories, ready for export. Of course, that’s not how it was sold to the natives.
Ohira is a little village near Sendai. Sendai is a town two Shinkansen hours north of Tokyo. The area is famous for its beef tongue, not the hottest export item. Ohira was known for exactly nothing until Toyota decided in 2007 to relocate their factory from Sagamihara, in the outskirts of Tokyo, up into the woods of Ohira.
A year later, the whole region went into shock: (Read More…)