At the turn of the century as Japanese yards handed the baton to their Korean neighbours, local shipbuilders in the Land of the Rising Sun went through a dramatic series of mergers in order to try and stay competitive.
Amid the protracted slump in orders around the world, there is now a call for a new round of mergers.
Shinjiro Mishima, president and chief executive of Japan Marine United (JMU), told local media that Japanese shipbuilders will need to pursue mergers and acquisitions, or risk disappearing from the scene amidst cheaper competition from China and South Korea.
JMU is itself the creation of a mega merger between IHI Marine, NKK and Hitachi Zosen
“There are too many companies doing shipbuilding now,” Mishima said, adding: “In order to enhance technological competitiveness as a viable solution, major shipbuilders will have to merge. It is necessary to establish a new industrial structure to compete with Chinese and Korean shipyards as soon as possible.”
Among local yards, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has recently sought to form an alliance with compatriots Imabari Shipbuilding, Oshima Shipbuilding and Namura Shipbuilding to try and cut costs.