Japan today accounts for 15 percent of the global economy, and Sakai feels it is foolish that Western business people know so little about Japan, and he proposes to correct that with some guidelines.
The secret of Japanese manufacturing firms that has allowed them to produce high-quality products and to be competitive on the world market is seen by Sakai as something of an illusion. He says that Japan's huge businesses are not what they appear to be. They do not develop all of their own product line, and they also do not manufacture it. They are really more like trading companies than manufacturers in that they coordinate a complex design and manufacturing process involving thousands of smaller companies. This operation is complex, perhaps unnecessarily so. An electronics firm might produce in-house a refrigerator or microwave oven because such a product is ideally suited to mass production in a large, automated factory. On the other hand, companies that must continually redesign to gain public acceptance for new products would have to retool a production line to accomplish this task. Some of the manufacturers today employ the n