Industry, Technology & Economy

Small Worldwide Companies小さな世界企業

  • 5 x 10 min.
  • EDC3S017-001~005
  • English, Spanish, French, Arabic, M/E

©NHK International, Inc.

Automobiles, digital cameras, high-tech consumer electronics: in all these categories, "Made in Japan" products are globally renowned. But few people know that along with the giant companies that dominate these markets, there are lots of small companies in Japan with a tremendous reputation that make unique or unrivalled products. How are these winning products developed and manufactured? This series takes us inside several manufacturers brimming with innovation.

1. Cosmetic Brushes~Traditional Artistry Meets the World~ / 化粧筆~世界に羽ばたく日本の伝統工芸~

About 100 manufacturers in a small town in western Japan have a 170-year-history of producing brushes and account for 80% of Japan's brush production. Among those, Hakuhodo Inc. leads the industry by creating new types of the cosmetic brushes which accompany make-up compacts, and the quality of the brushes is highly acclaimed both in Japan and overseas.

2. Luminous Paint~A Big Success Built on Small Steps~ / 夜光塗料~小さな積み重ねが生んだ大きな成功~

Nemoto & Co. in Tokyo, which produces and processes luminous paint for watches and other products, initiated in 1991 intensive research to develop a new paint without radioactive ingredients. Three years later, it succeeded in developing a new, environment-friendly luminous paint which is ten times brighter and glows longer than existing paints.

3. Rubber Palm Gloves~2000 Items Respond to Consumer Demand~
/ ゴム張り手袋~消費者のニーズに応えて2000アイテム~

ATOM Corporation in western Japan boasts 30% of Japan's market share of gloves which have rubberized palms. The company's basic posture of product development is to listen to customers and respond to their needs. The company produces over 100 samples before they are successful in developing new gloves, and continues to improve the quality.

4. Tawashi Brushes~Maintaining Handicraft Methods for 100 Years~ / たわし~手作りを守りつづけて100年~

The tawashi is a handle-less brush with coconut fiber rolled on a wire. This cleaning tool was first produced in 1907, and maintains unchanged popularity over 100 years. Six million tawashis are produced annually and about 10% of them are exported to over 30 countries. The program tells the story of the birth of a great hit product.

5. The Portable Sugar Content Light Sensor~A Secret Weapon for Measuring Sweetness~
/ 小型光センサー糖度計~甘さを計る秘密兵器~

Harvested apples and other fruits are checked in their sizes, shapes and sweetness before shipping. They were checked by a large-scale light sensor sorting machine until Towa electric industry & Co. developed a handy sugar content sensor in 1999. It solved the problem of having to crush fruits to check sugar content, and accounts for a 90% market share of the small-scale sugar content sensors.