Made in Japan (1988)

mijMade in Japan (1988) is the story of Sony, formerly the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, and its ascent from a small company started by young engineers in a bombed-out Tokyo building to becoming the world’s leading consumer electronics company. It is written by Akio Morita (with some help from professional writers), one of the founding members and later CEO of CEO. Morita vividly describes the dismal conditions in which Sony was born and the many challenges it faced as the young promoters tried to build a world class company from the ruins of a devastated nation. (Japan, with Germany and Italy, was one of the nations that lost the second world war, in addition to being bombed by two atomic bombs).

Akip Morita started his career when “Made in Japan” had negative connotations about product quality. It would take many years from companies from this devastated nation to create their niche in the world and be counted among leading global companies. The book presents Morita’s ideas on how companies can create a quality niche for themselves as well as the hard struggle when companies try to compete at a global level. The book is interesting not only for a Japanese and American audience, but also business students and managers from countries like India and China who are trying to lead their companies in a global market.

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8 responses to “Made in Japan (1988)

  1. Wei-Yoan Cheng

    Akio Morita was born into a rich and modernized Japanese family in the 1920’s. Morita’s father insisted that he learn about business and management from an early age so that he could take over the family business. In middle school, Morita joined in on his father’s business meetings and he even helped with inventory and sake-testing. In high school, Morita was very good at physics and planned on studying it in college. However, this was during WWII. Morita decided to commit himself to the navy permanently so that he could continue his education. It was there that he met Masaru Ibuka, and they would eventually become co-founders of the Sony Corporation. After the war ended, Morita decided that he did not want to take over the family business. Instead, he wanted to join Ibuka and start a new company. In 1946, they started the new company, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo. It started out with little money and in the ruins of war-torn Tokyo. The goal was to produce a wire recorder. However, the big corporations that supplied the steel wire needed to produce the wire recorder were reluctant to sell it to a new and small company. This turned out to be a failure which would later turn into a blessing that would become the tape recorder.

  2. Anton Brovchenko

    Made in Japan is an autobiographical look at the rise of Sony written by one of its co-founders, Akio Morita. Morita was born into a family of wealthy sake brewers and as such was exposed to Western elements such as phonographs and Western music. As he became more interested in this technology he decided to pursue a physics degree at Osaka University. Later, Morita enlisted in the Navy, where he met his future partner Masaru Ibuka.

  3. wei jiang

    The influence of people around us is very important for becoming a successful person. Akio Morita had a strong family background of business which open the door for him to explore the world of business. Because he has a huge family, he can see things in different aspects. Moreover, Morita’s father also gave him space to let him expand his ability to do whatever he wanted to do. Everything Morita had in his family built up his foundation of success.

  4. wei jiang

    Morita’s family is traditional,but open-minded. Morita’s parents want their kids to see anything possible in this world. His farther often says all the money in the world can’t give a person education unless that person is willing to sit down by himself and study hard. But money can provide one kind of education, the education you can get by travel. pursuing his interest is also very important for a person to be successful in life. Morita also has the persistence of pursuing his interest. He spent large amount of time on building his own radio after school. He had failed so many time and taken a long time to make a small progress,but he never lost the sight on this goal.Morita has second role model who is his professor for physics. Morita’s father thought he would study economics and was upset about him picking physics as major. However, being professional in physics builds his foundation of future explore to found SONY.

  5. Wei-Yoan Cheng

    Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka, founders of Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, finally succeeded in producing a tape recorder in 1950. However, when the machine was ready for sale, there was no market for it in Japan; it was too expensive and too bulky that most people considered it an expensive toy and not a necessity. In a couple of years, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo’s tape recorder business was doing very good thanks to buyers from the Japan Supreme Court and Japanese schools.

    Morita and Ibuka had thought about their company entering international markets from the beginning. They decided to visit the United States and from their visits, they learned about the transistor. In 1956, Sony successfully created its first tiny transistor radio. The new transistor radio was branded under the company’s new name SONY, which came from the Latin word sonus meaning “sound.”

  6. Anton Brovchenko

    Getting further into the book I begin to see more about the kind of person that Akio Morita is. He is clearly very passionate about what he wants to do and that is clearly the biggest reason for his success. Going around schoolwork, his family’s wishes, and even the government to practice physics shows how much Morita cares for his chosen trade. I feel that the biggest factor in successfully starting and running a business is believing fully in and having a passion for what you do. This holds true in my own life as well. Anytime I’ve truly wanted something I’ve worked hard and finally got it through any means I knew how. If I didn’t really care for something I couldn’t see myself putting in the effort to achieve it. Thus, I think Morita’s passion was a major driving force for Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo early on. He was forunate though to have worked with Ibuka who was equally as passionate about the business and just as brilliant of a physicist. Thus, when Morita realized he needed to learn how to market his product, he still had Ibuka to do the critical R&D work.

  7. Wei-Yoan Cheng

    Overseas, Sony had to overcome the image of “Made in Japan” products as being poor quality. Sony decided to become an innovator and it built the first home video cassette recorder and invented the 3.5-inch floppy disk, eight-millimeter video, Trinitron system, and Walkman.

    Morita faced a huge problem when he went to the United States to find buyers of Sony’s products. Bulova liked Sony’s transistor radio and wanted 100,000 of them with Bulova’s name on the radio instead of Sony. Morita turned down Bulova’s order because he wanted Sony to become a well-known brand itself.

  8. Anton Brovchenko

    One thing that I admire about Morita is his ability to learn from everything that he does and apply it back to his company. At one point, Morita decided that traveling to the United States a few times a month was not enough to learn how to do business there. Thus he decided to move his family to the United States and live there for 2 years. Although his stay was cut short, it illustrates the point that Morita is a man of initiative that trusts his instinct. Rather than learning from others or hiring managers to help Sony function in America, Morita took the burden upon himself. Only after living and doing business in the United States for a number of years did he begin to formulate his own opinions of the positives and negatives of the way business is done in America compared to Japan. When he goes to speak at Harvard about his opinion on the way lawyers adversely affect business he doesn’t speak through biased opinions but rather through his own experiences with Sony and its past legal problems.

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