Japan's injection molding machinery industry is on track to manufacture about 12,000 presses in the country this year, slightly up from last year, even as it increases production outside the country to become more cost-competitive, the head of the country's plastics machinery association said.
Japanese machinery makers made 9,900 machines domestically from January to September, but the pace was expected to slow in the fourth quarter and will likely put full-year production at about 12,000, said Hozumi Yoda, chairman of the Tokyo-based Association of Japan Plastics Machinery and president of Nagano, Japan-based Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd.
By comparison, the Japanese industry made 11,400 presses in domestic factories in 2011, including about 9,300 machines through the first nine months of 2011. Many of those machines are exported.
The Japanese association does not collect figures on production of machines by Japanese companies outside the country, but estimates it at about 20-25 percent of the domestic total and growing. That would put the full-year production overseas at roughly 2,400 to 3,000 machines.
Yoda said the industry was helped in the early part of 2012 by strong demand in Thailand, where many factories were replacing hundreds of machines wiped out in severe flooding there in 2011. But now the demand from Thailand has slowed, he said, speaking in an interview at the Nissei booth at the 14th Dongguan International Plastics, Packaging and Rubber Exhibition, or DMP show, held Nov. 14-17 in Dongguan.
Yoda said he is concerned about the economic picture for 2013, including sluggishness in the world economy. He also criticized Japanese government policies.
“The policy of the Japanese government has had a bad effect on us,” he said, arguing that the Japanese yen is too strong, labor costs are too high and the government should put more effort into joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks. “Everything is against [us].”
He said Japanese consumer product manufacturers are increasingly putting their production outside the country.
“Japanese companies such as Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp, they are putting their investment outside Japan,” he said. “There is less and less production inside Japan. It is not good for our business.”
Japan's press industry is one of the world's most technologically sophisticated and one of the largest. The U.S. market, for comparison, bought 2,400 molding machines in 2011.