Japan accounts for 12% of global industrial production. Mainly new and new industries based on advanced technologies are developing: 1) production of communications and informatics; 2) production of  new composite materials; 3) biotechnology.

The country ranks first in the world in the production of ships,  metal-cutting machines, industrial robots, photographic equipment and other products.

A high level of production of consumer goods remains, largely export-oriented. The production of medical electronic equipment, microelectronics, and numerically controlled machines is increasing. Japan has set the goal of near space exploration.

The main objects of mechanical engineering are concentrated within the Pacific industrial belt. An exceptional place is occupied by the Tokyo region (Keihin), which provides more than 30% of engineering products. A whole chain of industrial hubs was created on the coast of the inland Sea of Japan. The State shall stimulate the industrial development of the outlying regions of the country.

Fuel and energy complex. For quite a long time , the basis of the country’s energy was coal and wood. The growth of heavy industry has led to significant changes in the energy base  of Eastern Japan, where the most energy-intensive industries are concentrated. Consumption of imported oil and coal has increased dramatically, and the share of national energy sources  has declined markedly.  The energy base of Japanese industry is very vulnerable. 80% of it is dependent on oil imports.

Japan currently consumes 5% of the world’s electricity generation. In 2000, it produced 1012 billion kW. according to this indicator,  it came in third place in the world after the United States and China. In its development, the electric power industry of Japan has gone through several stages. The first of them can be called hydropower, it fell on the 50s. The second stage covered the 60s. and the first half of the 70s. The third stage began from the mid-70s to  the mid-80s. The fourth – from the mid-80s to the mid-90s. The last fifth – from the mid-90s to the present.

At the first stage in 1950, the share of hydroelectric power plants in total electricity generation reached 85%, in 1960 it decreased, but still amounted to another 50%. There are no large hydropower plants in Japan. All hydroelectric stations are small and located mainly in the central mountainous regions of the island of Honshu. The total number of them reaches 600. In the 50s, hydroelectric power plants provided the basic load of power systems. However, in the future, their share in the total output began to decline. Both the use of river alignments, the most convenient for the construction of hydroelectric power plants, and competition from thermal power plants affected.

The second stage, covering the 60s. and the first half of the 70s, can be called heat and power. Of course, TPPs were built before that. But they focused mainly on domestic coal resources and, above all, on the main coal basin, located in the north of the island of Kyushu, where a whole bush of thermal power plants has developed. From here, coal was also brought to the thermal power plants that powered the large cities of the Tōkaidō metropolis. In the 60s, when Japan began to import cheap oil in large quantities, it turned out to be more profitable to transfer most thermal power plants from coal to petroleum fuel. In this regard, there was a shift in the thermal power industry to the sea, where crude oil was delivered, and where large oil refineries were built. And now the largest thermal power plants in Japan (with a capacity of 3-4 million kW or more) are located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and the inland Sea of  Japan, near Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka (Kashima, Sodegaura, Anegasaki, Chita, Himeji). And the share of thermal power plants in the total electricity generation by the mid-70s increased to 80% (including liquid fuel – 70%, imported liquefied natural gas – 7 and coal – 3%).

The beginning of the third stage of development of the energy sector of Japan was laid by the world energy crisis of the mid-70s. A sharp rise in the price of oil and a decrease in its imports led to a revision of Japan’s energy concepts, which also affected the electric power industry. Production at coal-fired thermal power plants began to grow again, but no longer focused on domestic, but on cheaper imported thermal coal, mainly Australian. Liquefied natural gas coming from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, and Alaska began to be used more widely for this purpose. And yet the main bet was made on the rapid development of nuclear energy. Therefore, the third stage can be called atomic energy. At first glance, this may seem strange. It is well known that Japan was the first country to survive the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and has been experiencing a kind of “atomic allergy” since then. Japan’s nuclear power industry is entirely focused on imported uranium raw materials. And if such a bet was made, it was only because there was practically no other  alternative for the development of the country’s energy sector. In addition, the highest scientific and technical level of the Japanese economy, as it was believed, would ensure the economy and safety of nuclear energy. The construction of nuclear power reactors in Japan was started in

70s. under the licenses of American and French companies. Already in the middle

In the 80s, 30 reactors operated in the country, and the share of nuclear power plants in the total electricity generation was 18%. New technologies were developed, thanks to which nuclear energy turned out to be cheaper than electricity generated at conventional condensing TPPs. By the mid-80s, the construction of such nuclear power plants as Fukushima, with a capacity of 8.8 million kW, Hitachi, etc. Was completed. This is explained by the fact that the small rivers of the island of Honshu, which are also used for irrigation and water supply, cannot provide nuclear power plants with circulating water for cooling reactors, and the use of conventional cooling towers is difficult due to the very high humidity of the air. Many coastal nuclear power plants are located on specially washed sites, although this is the same as the need for anti-seismic measures,  the transfer of fishing villages and roads greatly increases the cost of construction.

As the fourth stage, we can distinguish the period from the mid-80s  to the mid-90s. It is characterized by a further increase in electric power capacities and some stabilization of the structure of its production. Today, TPPs generate about 59.3% of all electricity and provide the base load in power systems. In 2000,  52 reactors with a total capacity of 44.068 million kW operated in the country (the third place in the world after the United States and France), and the share of nuclear power plants in electricity production was 31.1%. As for hydroelectric power plants, their share fell to 9.3%. Power plants operating on alternative energy sources produce 0.3% of electricity. 

Finally, the fifth stage can be called promising. After the publication in 1990 of the next “White Paper” of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry, it can be confidently stated that the next twenty years will also be marked by the accelerated development of nuclear energy. In the next twenty years, it is planned to put into operation another 40 nuclear reactors, including in 2000-2001 the  capacity of existing nuclear power plants  increased to 72 million kW, and their share in the total electricity generation – up to 43%. According to forecasts, by 2010 nuclear power plants will generate 71% of electricity.

The problem of nuclear power plant safety is acute in all countries. In Japan, it is successfully solved. First, inspections of the technical condition of the stations are carried out every year at all nuclear power plants. In addition, every day a complete qualitative control of all units is carried out both by the personnel themselves and by certain security computer systems. At almost all nuclear power plants, there are training centers where all personnel are trained, critical situations are played.

Of great interest to Japan is the use of non-traditional energy sources. Japan is a country of active and extinct volcanoes. Here, especially on the island of Honshu, thousands of hot springs, geysers and fumaroles are known.  Already in the 70s. the first geothermal power plant was built here. By the beginning of the 90s. in the country there were already millions of “solar houses”, in which solar radiation is used to heat the premises and heat water. In the literature, there is often a mention of the state program “Sunlight” adopted in 1974, which provides for a wider use of solar energy and other alternative energy resources. In 1978, a program called “Moonlight” was adopted, which set as its main goal the introduction of energy-saving technologies. These programs have not been canceled. However, it should be borne in mind that they appeared in the midst of the energy crisis and were quite a natural reaction to it. Initially, the Sunlight program planned to bring the share of unconventional energy sources to

2000 to 20%. Then it was reduced to 5-7%, but, according to current data, it will not reach even 1%.

Ferrous metallurgy is one of the old industries that at the present stage of development of the world economy are experiencing a chronic decline in production. Nevertheless, for Japan, it has been and remains one of the important branches of international specialization. Especially rapid steel smelting grew until the mid-70s, reaching a maximum in 1973 Japan, overtaking the United States, came out in second place in terms of steel smelting after china. This is, first of all, the result of large-scale capital construction. In the 60-70s, twenty new large ferrous metallurgy plants were built in the country. However, with the onset of the global energy crisis of the mid-70s, the size of steel smelting decreased. In the early 80s. there was an even greater decline associated with a slowdown in the overall pace of economic development, as well as with a decrease in the output of metal-intensive products – sea vessels, many types of machinery and equipment, a reduction in the volume of capital construction. In the second half of the 80s, steel smelting remained at a relatively stable level.

Currently, Japan provides 14-15% of all world steel production. Steel smelting in 1999 amounted to 101.651 million tons, while it should be borne in mind that the technical level of metallurgical enterprises  in Japan is much higher than the level of similar enterprises in the United States and Western Europe. Steel smelting is carried out only by the most progressive methods – oxygen-converter (70%) and electric steelmaking (30%). Almost all of its casting takes place on continuous casting machines. Japan has been and remains the world’s largest exporter of steel and rolled products (20-30 million tons per year), which are sent to the USA, China, the countries of Southeast, South-West Asia, and other regions of the world. However, these exports have recently been gradually declining, both due to a decrease in demand for the ferrous metal and due to increased competition from the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, which sell steel and rolled products at lower prices. Every year, Japan exports 24-26 million tons of steel.

Japanese ferrous metallurgy is characterized by a very high production concentration. Of the 14 largest metallurgical enterprises in the economically developed countries of the West with an annual capacity of  more than 7 million tons of steel, Japan accounts for 8 metallurgical plants, while the USA and Western Europe have 3 metallurgical enterprises each. In addition, Japan  is dominated by full-cycle metallurgical plants that produce a wide range of metallurgical products. The largest metallurgical plant is located in Fukuyama (16 million tons of steel per year).

Another important feature of  ferrous metallurgy is the high level of its territorial concentration. Japan is characterized by the formation not of separate centers, but of large metallurgical regions. These centers and areas are located on the sea coast, which provides convenience for the delivery of imported raw materials and fuel.  That is why in recent decades the ferrous metallurgy has developed rapidly in large port cities, such as Yokohama, Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Kawasaki. The oldest metallurgical area on the island of Kyushu (Kitakyushu) also retains its importance. Outside the industrial belt is the Muroran Combine in Hokkaido.

An important trend in the development of the territorial organization of the ferrous metallurgy of Japan and other developed countries is the establishment of closer production and organizational ties between metallurgical enterprises and their consumers, coordination in production and marketing planning, which provides for the supply of not just materials, but products on the basis of an individual order.

The largest steel producers in the industry are the multinational corporations Nippon Steel and NCC (NKK).

Lacking sufficient raw material base, Japan focuses on imported iron ore and coking coal. Every year, Japan imports more than 64 million tons of coking coal, including about half of this amount from Australia, and the rest of the raw materials from Canada, the United States, and India. Imports of iron ore amount to almost 130 million tons. about half of this amount  is imported from Australia, and the rest from Brazil and India and to a lesser extent from Chile, Peru, South Africa.  State institutions and dozens of private firms in Japan continue to develop technology for the extraction of ferromanganese nodules from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Japan and France were the first two countries to submit applications  to international organizations for sections  of the seabed in this ocean. Both of them are preparing to begin experimental and then industrial mining of such nodules.

Some of the metallurgical plants in Japan are built not just on the sea coast, but on sites specially washed for this purpose. The most striking example of this kind is the largest plant  in the Inland Sea of Japan Fukuyama, built on an alluvial territory of 900 hectares. it is planned in such a way that the entire technological process “fits” between the berths that receive raw materials and fuel, and the berths that send finished products.

Mechanical engineering forms the core of Japanese industry. In terms of the value of products of this industry, the country is second only to the United States, in terms of the share of mechanical engineering in the structure of the manufacturing industry (37%), it occupies the third, and in terms of its share in exports (75%), it ranks first in the world. Especially the industries of international specialization of Japan stand out – automotive, shipbuilding, machine tool building, robotics, consumer electronics and optics, watch production. This is the result of a profound restructuring of Japanese industry.

In the 80s – early 90s of the last century , new changes were outlined in this structure. The main one is an even greater bias towards high-tech industries, focused primarily  on qualified personnel and R&D,  which do not require a large amount of raw materials and fuel. An example of this kind is the already traditional robotics industry.  In terms of the production of metal-cutting machine tools, the country came out on top in 1982, while it accounted for almost half of the world’s production of CNC machine tools. Japan is still the leader in their production.

  To imagine a truly cosmic take-off of Japan in the field of consumer electronics, it is enough to recall that in 1960 it did not produce televisions at all, and produced only 300 thousand radios.

At the same time, traditional industries do not leave the scene. An example of this is shipbuilding, where Japan has held the world leadership since 1956, however, in the 80s its share  decreased (from more than 50% to about 40%). Currently, the share of Japanese shipbuilding companies is 28.1%. Now the Republic of Korea (27.7%) is “stepping on its heels”. However, shipbuilding continues to be one of Japan’s international specializations.

Another example of this kind is japan’s automotive industry. The automotive industry in Japan originated in the mid-20s. The earthquake of 1923 severely damaged urban transport in Tokyo and other centers. There was an urgent need to replace the tram and the city railway with buses, trucks and cars. At first, they were purchased in the United States. In 1924-1925, the American companies Ford and General Motors built their first car assembly plants in the Tokyo area, which in the 30s switched mainly to the production of trucks for the needs of the Japanese army. During the Second World War, all of them were destroyed by bombing and only in the early 50s. again began to produce trucks and buses, and then cars. In 1950, only a little more than 30 thousand cars came off the conveyors of Japanese automobile plants, while 8 million came off the conveyors of American ones.

The second impetus to the development of the automotive industry was given already in the 50s, which was partly due to military orders during the Korean War of 1950-1953, as well as  with the beginning  of an increase in demand for cars. In the 60s. the production of cars increased almost seven times, in the 70s. – another two times. Already in 1974, Japan overtook the United States in terms of car exports,  and soon – in their production. In the 80s, this gap increased even more. Until 1994, Japan was ahead of the United States in the production of cars.

Now Japan ranks second in the global automotive market. Japan’s share in the world production of cars is 21.2%, while exporting 46% of the cars produced. Unlike the United States, Japan has long specialized in the production of economical small-sized models of cars;  after the onset of the energy crisis, this direction received a new development. Under the influence of strict environmental laws, the technique and production technology have been improved so much that now Japan produces the most “clean” (in terms of emission of harmful substances into the atmosphere) cars. About 700,000 workers work directly in the automotive industry in Japan, but a total of 5-6 million people are employed in the production, operation and maintenance of cars.

The largest of japan’s automobile concerns is Toyota, which accounts for 9% of global car production. It is second only to the American concerns General Motors and Ford Motor. It is followed by Honda (5.4%), Nissan (5.2%),  then Mitsubishi (3.5%), Mazda. All these firms not only export a significant part of their products to the American market, which has repeatedly led to outbreaks of “car war” between the two countries, but also built their car factories in the United States, producing more than 2.5 million cars a year.

Since the beginning of the 60s, the Japanese aircraft industry has been developing rapidly. It was during this period that there was a significant expansion and improvement of the production and research base. In the research laboratories of Japanese companies since the late 60s.  began the development of aircraft of their own designs. In 1973, the first domestic supersonic training aircraft T-2 was created, which served as the basis for the creation of the F-1 tactical fighter.

Japanese and foreign experts note that despite the relatively small volume of production, the state assigns the aircraft missile industry (along with the industry of technical means of information) the role of “the main pillar of the national economy of the near future.” The state provides organizational and financial support to the industry.

In many basic technical and economic indicators, Japan’s aircraft missile industry is significantly inferior to that of other leading capitalist countries. However, despite the small volumes of production, the industry is an important part of the country’s military-economic potential, more than 80% of its products fall on the share of military aircraft missile equipment.

The basis of the production base of the industry is 60 plants. Of these, more than 30 are engaged in the production of military aircraft missiles. The industry is characterized by a high degree of territorial concentration. Almost all factories are located on the island of Honshu, mainly in the areas of the cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka.

The largest enterprise of the aircraft missile industry is the Nagoya Aircraft Manufacturing Plant of Mitsubishi Jukoge, which employs a total of six thousand people at four plants. The head enterprise of the Ooe combine (Nagoya) has three thousand workers and engineering and technical workers.  The plant’s products are a wide range of parts and assemblies of tactical fighters F-15 and F-1, supersonic training aircraft T-2, patrol aircraft R-3C “Orion”, passenger liners “Boeing 767”, anti-submarine helicopters H-2, as well as launch vehicles for launching artificial Earth satellites into near-Earth orbit. The plant has a number of research laboratories, where work is underway to create turbojet engines together with scientists from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy. Japan has set the task of exploring near space.

One of the important industries in Japan in a very short time was electronics. The main directions in Japanese electronics are the production of special electronic devices and apparatus, radios, televisions, tape recorders, radio communication equipment, navigation devices, automatic control systems, medical equipment.

Electronic production requires significant material costs and relies heavily on scientific and experimental work. The Japanese government provides support to large companies that organize the production of electronic products.

A high reputation outside Japan was won by the products of the optical industry (film cameras, microscopes, optical devices for aerial photography, for underwater photography, etc.), which are of high quality.

Chemical industry. Some chemical industries, such as paint and varnish, the manufacture of technical oils, cosmetics, medicines, etc., have existed in Japan for a  long time. The chemical industry received significant growth when the waste of the coal and metallurgical industry and forestry began to be actively used.

The next big shift in the chemical industry took place at the turn of the 60s. of the last century, when petrochemicals were created at an accelerated pace on the basis of waste oil and gas production. Petrochemicals provide new raw materials for the manufacture of synthetic products at a relatively low price and in large quantities, complementing and replacing old types of raw materials obtained from waste coal, ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy.

In terms of the size of production of many types of chemical goods, Japan is in third place after the United States and Germany.

The range of chemical goods produced in Japan is diverse. For chemical products such as ammonium sulfate, sulfuric acid, soda, artificial fiber, ethylene, synthetic resins and plastics, synthetic rubber, Japan is among the largest producers in the world. For example, in the production of synthetic resins and plastics (14.8 million tons), synthetic rubber (1.5 million tons) at the end of the twentieth century, Japan came in second place in the world after the United States; for the production of chemical fibers (1.8 million tons), ranked fifth in the world after the USA,  China, Taiwan, and the Republic of Korea.

Considerable attention is paid in Japan to biochemistry – the manufacture of effective therapeutic drugs, agricultural plant protection products, the production of vitamins, special acids.

Chemical goods are an important item of Japanese exports. Mineral fertilizers, chemicals, dyes, medicines, cosmetic products and many other goods are exported.

Light industry. The industrialization of Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries began with the light and food industries. These industries are still of considerable importance. The share of large enterprises has increased while maintaining many small ones.

Currently, the basis of the light industry has become well-equipped large enterprises. Independent small and medium-sized enterprises have been preserved in outlying areas remote from industrial centers.   However, these small-scale commodity enterprises are also carrying out technical reconstruction.

Technological progress significantly affected the fate of the textile industry, which until the 1930s occupied a leading place in the Japanese economy. The structure of textile production has changed, equipment has been updated, new technologies have been introduced, the quality of products has improved, the range of manufactured products has increased.

The two main textile industries – cotton and wool – rely on imported raw materials, mainly delivered from the USA (cotton), Australia and South Africa (wool). Large sums are spent on the purchase of raw materials.

In terms of the pace of development of the textile industry, Japan from year to year was ahead of the countries of Western Europe and the United States. The production of synthetic fiber, wool and knitwear grew more intensively.

The production of chemical fiber is located mainly in the south-west of Japan. The most significant plants are located in the area of the cities of Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, in the west of Honshu in the Toyama Bay area and in the north of Shikoku. Several large factories have been built in Kyushu. A lot of synthetic fiber is exported to developing countries in South Asia and  Africa. In terms of production and export of cellulose fiber, Japan has long taken first place, ahead of  the United States.

Enterprises of the old branches of the textile industry – cotton and wool – are located mainly in large port cities, where cheap labor is concentrated and where raw materials are delivered from abroad.

Ceramic production, among the ancient national productions of Japan,  has always occupied an important place in the economy, and in a modernized form it plays a significant role at the present time.

Japan has a large supply of high-quality clays, especially kaolin, and there are over 170 significant clay developments in which the roasting plants are located. The most famous center of ceramic production is located in the city of Seto near the city of Nagoya.

In the past, the products of the ceramic industry were almost entirely used to meet domestic needs, mainly artistic products were exported abroad. Currently, up to 75% of manufactured goods are exported to various countries of the world. Exported: household utensils; laboratory, chemical and electrical ceramics; plumbing; handicrafts and artistic products; Toys.