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Korean Companies Lack Awareness Says Japanese Businessman

Korean Companies Lack Awareness Says Japanese Businessman

Posted May. 09, 2007 09:04,   


“Korea’s manufacturing industry is like an amateur and can be likened to a golfer with a course handicap of 20,” says Tetsuo Hoshino (71), the chairman of Japan`s Gifu Auto Body Industry Co., on where the Korean manufacturing industry stands. He recently received a medal from the Korean government for showing the Toyota Production System (TPS) to Korean companies. Dong-A Ilbo sat down with him at the head office of his company located Kakamigahara, Japan Monday.

He gave a piece of advice to Koreans: “Samsung and LG can make money only because their rivals and their customers are ‘people with a course handicap of 25.’ Therefore, Korean companies should make strenuous efforts to advance.”

Hoshino has taught the TPS to about 20,000 senior officials of large Korean corporations, including Samsung and LG, since 1990. Recently, Gu Bon-moo, chairman of LG Group, visited his company, listened to Hoshino’s thoughts and sent him Korean ginseng to express his appreciation.

Hoshino says the biggest problem of Korean companies is a lack of awareness that they are makers. He said there are only a few business leaders in Korea who are aware of what is going on at plants, while many focus on research and development, planning and finance.

He added, “Korea boasts of its mobile phones to the world but the facilities that make them are Japanese. Korean mobile phone manufacturers are wasting enormous sums of money on purchasing unnecessary and expensive equipment because they do not have an eye for effective facilities.”

He stressed, “If they don’t have an eye for good facilities, they should at least train experts who can tell which facilities are needed and which are not.”

He gave a piece of bitter advice for Korean companies that abandon an existing production system and adopt a new one. “Korean companies embrace almost all of the world’s renowned management theories, but continuity does matter.”

Hoshino has contributed to expanding exchanges between Korea and Japan. Along with training Korean companies in TPS, he supported efforts to make Chuncheon City and Kakamigahara City sister cities, and invited Lee Eun-gwan, an artistic performer, to Japan for performances.

He has maintained a very close relationship with the late and former vice president of Toyota, Taichi Ohno, who systemized TPS. Gifu Auto Body Industry is one of the eight suppliers of Toyota.