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Asahi Travel Group / Business Travel  / How Japanese Manufacturing Principles Transformed the U.S. Economy

How Japanese Manufacturing Principles Transformed the U.S. Economy

During the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing changed the landscape of the American economy. The main contribution to the success and growth of the American economy was the invention and mass production of the car. Over time, American car owners adapted Japanese principles to their manufacturing processes. Soon, Americans began to incorporate other Japanese systems into various aspects of American business. Read on to discover how Japanese manufacturing principle transformed the U.S economy.


Kanban is a Japanese word meaning sign or billboard. This is a visual, organizational system that was designed by the Japanese company, Toyota, in order to track progress as a whole team. The board shows the steps have been completed so far in the production process and the progress made so far.  You may have seen this type of visual aide community rooms in your place of work, tracking the progress of team sales while showing positive, visual reinforcement. 

Lean Manufacturing 

The 5S system, created by the Japanese car company, Toyota, was designed to increase productivity by eliminating waste. The system is based on five principles: sort, set in place, shine, standardize and sustain. Making systems and processes leaner enabled modern mass production and increased revenue. When American business started adapting this principle their revenue increased.

Six Sigma

Quantitatively driven, Six Sigma is a methodology used to optimize quality control. Developed in 1986 by the Japanese company Motorola, timed cycles and math were used to limit the number of mistakes made during manufacturing. Six Sigma is a great example of the detailed lengths Japanese companies go through in order to increase productivity. 


Kaizen means continuous improvement. Adopted by the U.S, this method focused more on employees than manufacturing. Kaizen encouraged employees to come up with as many improvement suggestions as possible and then the company tried to incorporate as many of these principles as possible. This is aimed to empower employees and make them feel special while simultaneously being of benefit to the company. This is a controversial strategy and therefore, less often implemented by Americans. 

As you can see, Japanese companies went to great lengths to create systems that optimized productivity while respecting all of the elements that go into running a business, including their employees. It is no surprise that American businesses began adopting these Japanese principles to achieve success in a number of industries.

Manufacturing principles and business practices are one aspect of Japanese culture that have come to America. If you want to learn more about Japanese culture, come to Japan and experience it firsthand!

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