The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Japan’s aerospace industry, with a current production value of more than ¥2 trillion, has long been known for quality and competence. Global interest is strong, as evidenced by the 812 companies and organizations from 31 countries and regions that exhibited at the 2016 Japan International Aerospace Exhibition at Tokyo Big Sight. The event’s next gathering will take place at the same venue this month—November 28–30.

Another aerospace convention in the Chubu region—Aeromart Nagoya—also attracts players from around the globe looking to tap Japan’s expertise. More than 300 companies from 20 countries are expected to attend the 4,000 business-to-business (B2B) meetings at the next Aeromart Nagoya, scheduled for September 24–26, 2019.

The prospects of growth are big, as are the opportunities for collaboration between aerospace manufacturers based in Japan and overseas companies seeking reliable suppliers.

Over the past few decades, large aerospace manufacturing corporations in Japan have partnered with local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This mirrors development in the Japanese automotive sector, where many intermediate-parts manufacturers are closely allied with larger automotive companies.

In some cases, these independent SMEs were spun off of parent companies to allow a keener focus on innovation and efficiency. In other cases, the SMEs were founded independently but have formed mutually beneficial relationships with larger multinational companies.

The situation in aerospace—particularly in the Chubu region—is analogous. Aerospace SMEs possess the technical know-how and facilities to produce a variety of products, from detailed parts and tooling to major aerostructure assemblies—or components of an aircraft’s frame. But, unlike in the automotive industry, these SMEs are not typically offshoots of a larger company. In some cases, this has led to reduced capacity to take on the enormous work packages of the world’s largest aerospace companies. Instead, they seek business with a variety of customers.

In recognition of this, the Japanese government has provided support by introducing global companies to these hidden gems of Japanese manufacturing. The aforementioned Aeromart Nagoya, a recurring event focused on B2B meetings, has received support from the city of Nagoya and other governmental and non-governmental organizations. A highlight of the year for manufacturers seeking new opportunities, Aeromart Nagoya features hundreds of aerospace companies, many of which are based in Nagoya and the surrounding Chubu region.

Aerospace manufacturers of all sizes belong to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) and conduct activities through two committees. The ACCJ Aerospace and Defense Committee provides a venue for addressing issues of interest to member companies that are US aerospace and defense (A&D) manufacturers and US corporations that support the A&D industry. The ACCJ-Chubu Aerospace Committee provides a regional venue for industry news and knowledge sharing with the primary mission to make the Chubu region the world leader in aerospace manufacturing by building lasting relationships and facilitate sustained growth for member companies.

Both committees provide excellent plat­forms for companies looking to take advantage of Japan’s high-quality manufacturing and to discover for themselves the economics of such arrange­ments. Member companies are already familiar with the Japanese environment and demonstrate an eagerness and capacity to do business with companies outside Japan—furthering the potential of Japanese aerospace expertise on the world stage.