TOKYO (Nov. 4, 2:15 p.m. ET) — The recent International Plastic Fair, Japan's largest plastics show, saw a sharp drop in attendance from the last edition in 2008, with the number of visitors down 34 percent to just over 43,700.
Organizers for the show, which ran from Oct. 25-29 in Tokyo, said the biggest reason for the decline is the ongoing flooding in Thailand, which is a big supply base for Japan's automotive and consumer electronics manufacturers.
Hundreds of Japanese-owned factories in Thailand have been “severely damaged,” IPF said in a statement.
From Plastics News interviews at the show, it appeared the floods, which have killed more than 300 people, also destroyed hundreds injection molding machines there in the last few weeks.
IPF said that staff at Japanese companies, including in their headquarters, were occupied with relocating their Thai factories and ordering new equipment.
Attendance was also down because of worries about the European debt crisis and concern over Japan's March 11 earthquake and subsequent nuclear crisis, show organizers said in their statement.
Total attendance in 2008 was 66,642, compared with 43,745 this year.
This year's edition had 41,591 Japanese visitors and 2,154 overseas visitors. That compares with 62,762 Japanese visitors and 3,880 from overseas in 2008.
This year's show also saw a sizable drop in the number of exhibitors, from 993 companies in 2008 to 751 this year.
Some exhibitors offered another reason for the decline in visitors: a change in the show days to only include one weekend day this year. They said Japanese plastics processing company executives enjoy coming to shows on weekends.
The 2011 edition opened on a Tuesday and closed on a Saturday, while the 2008 show opened on a Friday and closed on a Tuesday.
One American salesman for a Japanese machinery firm said the strong Japanese yen also kept some foreign buyers away.