Declining Population and Japanese Automotive Industry

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2017)


Automotive industry, declining population, human resource, Japan


In Japan, its population has already began to decline because of its aging population combined with the diminishing number of children. Needless to say, this issue has had huge impacts to every industry in Japan, including Japanese automotive industry. In this presentation, I would like to analyze the impacts of aging population combined with the diminishing number of children to Japanese automotive industry.

To begin, I would like to summarize supposed impacts from aging population combined with the diminishing number of children to automotive industry in Japan, from both industrial and social points of view.
First, shortage of human resources engage in automotive industry. Affected positions includes not only shop floor workers but also engineers, managers and top managements. Especially, suppliers have already been suffering from severe labor shortage countrywide.
Second, shrinkage of Japanese automotive market. This will force Japanese automotive manufacturers change their product strategy. They have developed “base” model for Japanese market at first, then made modifications for oversea markets. However, Japanese market has become a minor market for most Japanese manufacturers, now. Thus, it has become necessary for Japanese manufacturers to change their global product strategy. For example, some manufacturers including Toyota, Nissan and Mazda introduced mega platform strategy, which VW has already introduced. (For more details, please refer Mokudai and Iwaki, 2015)
Moreover, Japan has been famous for excess number of automotive manufacturers, but now, it is not sustainable.
Third, several problems accompany with aging population. These include increasing number of aging drivers and aging people who gave up driving. In order to prevent accidents caused by aging drivers, research and development about autonomous driving technology is awaited.
Fourth, several problems accompany with diminishing number of children. These include decreasing number of people in Japanese households, which will make downsizing of market’s favorite automotive.
Fifth, shortage of drivers for a living. This has been affecting to both logistic industry and automotive passenger services in Japan. Supply chain of most industry in Japan, including Japanese automotive industry, is now spread throughout the country, however, this may not be sustainable at no distant date due to labor shortage and increasing logistic cost.

Needless to say, all of these problem are hard to overcome, but it is necessary to overcome. As the world automotive industry itself is now facing a crucial turning point, things have become more complicated.
In this presentation, I will present about several attempts to overcome these problems in Japan, including those in our home region, Tohoku region (Northeast region).

Japan is not an only country of declining population in the near future. Most of other developed countries and some developing countries like China and Thailand are supposed to encounter these problems at no distant date, as they also have aging population combined with the diminishing number of children with a few decades late from Japan. If Japan will manage to overcome these problems successfully, it will come out to be another competitive advantage of Japan.

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