What Attracts the Japanese in Slovenia?
There is a distance of 10,000 kilometres between Slovenia and the most economically developed country in the Far East — Japan. However, this fact does not prevent the two countries from cooperation in economic sphere. Japanese interest in Slovenia is caused by several reasons, which will be discussed below.
Japanese Investment in Slovenia
At a press conference in Domžale, Hiroshi Ishino, the chairman of the Japanese multinational corporation Kansai Paint, voiced reasons why the Corporation from Osaka decided to purchase the Helios Company at the price of 0.5 billion euros.
In late November, the Eles Company signed an agreement with Hitachi on the start of Slovenian-Japanese cooperation in smart networks worth 50 million euros.
In October 2016, Yaskawa, the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial robots, decided upon construction of its new European plant in Slovenia.
In 2014, the Japanese corporation OTC Daihen bought the Varstroj Company from Lendava.
In July 2013, Panasonic acquired 10% of Gorenje shares and signed an agreement on strategic partnership. Although the Japanese have recently decided not to purchase Gorenje, they continue to cooperate with it in the development of new products. The last such project was a washing machine, which is able to wash 10 kg of laundry.
What Prospects Do the Japanese See in Slovenia?
Why do the Japanese companies consider Slovenia attractive for investments?
“Our investors are especially interested in Slovenia due to its favourable geographical location, well-educated personnel and sustainability of investment environment,” Yoshiaki Makino, the Japan’s Embassy Counsellor for Political and Economic Affairs, explains in his interview with Siol.net.
When choosing a site for its plant, the Yaskawa Company had several more options apart from Slovenia — the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. However, the Japanese bet on Slovenia. Makino tells about the reasons for such decision, “In Japan, we really do appreciate the Slovenian engineers and scientists. They have a huge store of knowledge. In addition, Yaskawa already has two companies in Slovenia. This tipped the scales in favour of launching a new plant here.”
Miro Cerar’s Visit to Japan
The close political, business and scientific relations between the two countries further promote the growth of Japanese investment.
In early October, the Prime Minister of Slovenia Miro Cerar paid an official visit to Tokyo. He supported the agreement on free trade zone between Japan and the EU. Miro Cerar met with the representatives of Keidenren, the Union of Japanese Employers, who arrived on a return visit to Slovenia a few weeks later.
In Japan, they particularly cherish cooperation with the Jožef Stefan Institute. An accelerator of electrically charged elementary particles KEK is considered to be a pilot research project. It is being developed in Cukuba, one of the three international centres of elementary particle physics, where scientists from different countries conduct their studies, including 12 Slovenian physicists.
The Japanese Are not Speculators. They Are Guided by Long-term Investments
“In general, Japanese investors are very cautious in their decisions on investment,” Makino says. They are mainly interested in long-term prospects rather than in speculative purchases of companies, transfers of production, illegal trafficking, and short-term benefits.
Perhaps this fact is the reason, for which the following Japanese companies with decent reputation and modern approach to business come to Slovenia:
- Panasonic, which employs 250 thousand people (13% of the Slovenian population);
- Kansai Paint, one of the world’s ten largest paint manufacturers;
- Hitachi, which in 2007 competed with Siemens for the right to build the sixth power generating unit of the Šoštanj thermoelectric power station (TEŠ6);
- Mitsubishi, which for several years, together with the American Westinghouse Company (owned by Toshiba) and the Hitachi Company, has been interested in the second power generating unit of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK); and
- Nippon Express, cooperating with Luka Koper. In 2015, 350 thousand tons of cargo were transported from the only Slovenian port to Japan and vice versa.
Investments made by the Japanese giants in Slovenia often become the starting point for further technological and business penetration into the Europe. According to the forecasts of the Kansai Paint Company representatives, Helios will also serve for achieving this goal.