This article analyzes the catching-up stage of Japanese color television manufacturers in the competitive market of exports to the United States. Around 1964, Japan's color TV industry was far behind the United States in both technology and marketing. Due to the high price of color TVs, a demand in the domestic market was not expected. Suddenly that year, the demand from American TV manufacturers and private label customers changed the situation. Facing uncertainties and obstacles, how did Japanese manufacturers catch up in the competitive export market? In this article, the author studies the case of Matsushita Electric. Around that time at Matsushita Electric, even the head of the R&D Division was pessimistic about the possibility of exporting. The Television Division, however, decided to take the opportunity of the strong demand from the United States and, despite trials and errors, started production in the Osaka main factory. After a few months, Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of the company and chairman at that time, suddenly decided to transfer the export production to a subsidiary on Shikoku island (Saijo factory) that had no experience in color TV production and exports. By Konosuke's decision, a large-scale investment was made, and many unskilled workers were hired. Export model production was begun at Saijo factory under such disadvantageous circumstances. It was an imitation-based operation and OEM/PB business acting as a training school. Uncertainties and obstacles were overcome by substitutes, and organizational learning was provided under the strong leadership of the top management. Many positive traits were created among workers to improve skills. Process innovations were made. After two-three years, the export-exclusive Saijo factory was able to catch up in its competitiveness and claim about a 20% share of the total color TV exports from Japan. The strategies and actions taken at Saijo factory to catch up in export competitiveness are typical cases of speculative and risk-taking Japanese entrepreneurship. Konosuke Matsushita's decision to separate export from domestic production had been considered unreasonable at the beginning. But it proved right when the domestic market took off at high speed. Both the Osaka and Saijo factories were able to comply independently to the growing demand in the respective markets. Unless otherwise carried out, the catching up of export competitiveness could not have been accomplished so smoothly.
Until the 1950s, the three-wheel truck, primarily used for transporting small goods, constituted the largest sector in the Japanese automobile industry. The long-term and large-scale production of this vehicle can be regarded as a Japan-specific character in the history of the world automobile industry. The object of this paper is to delineate the reasons for the growth of three wheelers through an analysis of the factors in the market situation and technology and managerial strategy of manufacturers. Until the mid-1950s, the largest demand for vehicles was the truck, especially with a carrying capacity of from 1-ton to 2-tons. However, the four-wheel truck primarily produced at that time had a 4-ton carrying capacity. Therefore, three wheelers that had produced 0.75-ton carrying trucks since the 1930s enlarged the models to fit such a demand. Furthermore, the three-wheel truck was so cheap that small businesses could purchase it, and production of three wheelers rapidly increased. In the late 1950s, four-wheel 1-ton carrying trucks also began to be produced and were competitive with three-wheel trucks in price. The technological disadvantage in the driving comfort of the three-wheel truck and the narrow price gap between the three-wheel and four-wheel trucks resulted in the decline of the three-wheel truck during this phase. However, in order to overcome this situation, three-wheeler manufacturers developed a light truck with a 0.5-ton carrying capacity, intending to explore a new market. Because this strategy was a great success, and three wheelers' financial performance improved, the top three-wheeler manufacturers, Mazda and Daihatsu, were able to change to four-wheeler production in the 1960s.
The purpose of this paper is to make clear the effects of a nonfinancial corporation's intervention in a firm that fell into a management crisis during the high-growth period. In this paper, we first examine the change in a failed firm's stockholding structure and the board of directors. A nonfinancial corporation takes over a failed firm's stocks to become its largest stockholder and dispatches executives with skills and experience in management or production. The dispatch of directors is not to discipline poor management but to provide human resources. Second, in order to examine the motives and effects of a nonfinancial corporation's intervention, this paper focuses on three cases. In the case of Nihon Suiso, Mitsubishi Chemical Industries took over Nihon Suiso's stock in 1960 to acquire the firm's equipment for the production of chemical fertilizer. To cope with Nihon Suiso's financial difficulties, Mitsubishi Chemical helped the firm advance into a new business and to change its products by consigned production and technical guidance. In the case of Tokyo Hatsudoki (Tohatsu), Fuji Denki Seizo intervened with the object of continued selling of their products in the early 1960s. Although Fuji Denki provided a new low-interest loan of 17 billion yen, Tohatsu filed for bankruptcy under the Corporate Reorganization Law in 1965. In the case of Kurita Industrial, C. Ito, which entered into tie-up agreement with the firm in 1965, played an important role in Kurita's reconstruction process. C. Ito's motive was to secure the commercial rights to sell the firm's products in both the domestic and foreign markets. They were not only in charge of supplying a short-term loan to Kurita, they also guaranteed long-term loans that the firm borrowed from regional and trust banks.