Beginning in the 1950s, Japan realized that the best way for it to rebuild its economy was through exporting. Though this process of manufacturing and exporting began with smaller, rudimentary items like small radios, it quickly evolved into larger and more complex items, such as automobiles and more advanced electronics, finally arriving at the products that we see today, hybrid cars and efficient “smart” devices. Naturally, much of this can be attributed to the advance of technology, increases in efficiency, and overall global demand for the products being produced. However, one thing that has helped to make and keep Japanese goods in demand is a weak currency.
For those who either never took or fell asleep during an economics class, a weak currency can help to make a country’s goods more attractive to foreigners by reducing the cost of the goods in another nation’s currency. Using an example well-known to any American who lived through the 1980s, Japan was able to acquire a significant segment of the American automotive market due to the fact that they could match the vehicle quality of domestic car manufacturers, but still offer the vehicle at a lower price than domestic makers. This was due to a number of factors, one of them the benefit of a weak currency. Now that the issue has been explained, what is the current market situation?
After enduring a decade of lost growth, worries about debt, and fallout from the Great Recession, Japan now appears to be back on track to export-fueled growth:
- Exports to the United States, Europe, and Asia are all on the rise.
- Overall, exports have increased by 12.1% compared to July of last year, which is the largest percentage increase since late 2010.
- Aside from just percentages and dollar amounts, which can be subject to inflation, exports have also grown in terms of volume for the first time in a year.
What does this mean for business? Since the Japanese economy is really starting to exhibit signs of export-fueled growth, this indicates that levels of trade between Japan and the rest of the world are increasing. Increasing trade means increased opportunity for business. However, since this trade is Japan-centric, the best way for a business to exploit this opportunity is to work with Japanese companies on their own terms, which means utilizing the Japanese language. Obviously, the best example of this is the extremely popular and well regarded Toyota Prius, which will only be made in Japan for the foreseeable future. For this reason, if an enterprise wants to be involved in any way with this product, such as through after-market parts, accessories, or even proper service and maintenance, an ability to understand and have a meaningful exchange in Japanese could prove to be invaluable. Understanding and explaining automotive technicalities, or indeed any issue dealing with Japanese trade, is not something that can be or should be trusted to a generic computer translator that has a propensity for error; issues such as these which are necessary for a business to thrive need to be addressed through the use of a translation company that is accustomed to working in Japanese and with business/trade-related issues.
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