Chapter 7: Japan and Southeast Asia
Japanese multinational industrial corporations have exercised a strong influence on international developments in logistics. Toyota Corporation’s management philosophy aimed at eliminating manufacturing waste by producing only the right amount and combination of parts at the right place at the right time has had a marked impact upon logistics practice (SFE, 2003–04). Since the 1980s this ‘lean thinking’ has been embodied in Toyota’s production system and linked to ‘systems thinking’ which led to the ‘just-in-time’ (JIT) principle and automation being incorporated into common practice around the world. It was not until the promotion of a broader version of supply chain management in the United States and Europe featuring agile and flexible supply chain configurations that Japanese practices lost some of their international appeal. However this loss of influence did not extend to Southeast Asia. After Japanese companies had ingested the broader concepts of supply chain management and developed third-party logistics (3PL) companies, the pitch for influence over economic development in Southeast Asia and the wider Asian-Pacific Rim was reinvigorated. The Japanese International Freight Forwarders Association (JIFFA), founded in 1979, and the Japan Institute of Logistics Systems (JILS), established by the Government of Japan in 1992, have both supported this pitch. Expertise in supply chain management, albeit with Japanese characteristics, has become a major instrument behind the Japanese push for greater Asian regionalism as a counter to Western, especially ‘Anglo-Saxon’, ideas and influences.
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