Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics
Daiwa Securities America Inc.
TABLE 8 (Japanese Industrial Robot Demand Forecast--Paul Aron[cont.])
In Value - Billion Y
Using the more restrictive American definition of robots, Japanese industrial robot production is estimated to achieve a unit output of 31,900 with a value of $ 2.15 billion in 1985 and 57, 450 units and $ 4.45 billion in 1990. If this were to occur, Japanese output in 1985 would be four times greater in units and value than the most optimistic forecast for the U.S.
Why have industrial robots enjoyed such success in Japan and why do the Japanese place such high confidence in their future?
Japan’s success in robot production and installation can be traced, in large measure, to its labor practices. The Japanese employees in major corporations are guaranteed lifetime employment (until the age of 55-60) . In addition, all employees receive two bonuses, each ranging from 2-5 months pay, in June and December, which, while negotiated between the union and management, are ultimately based upon the company profitability. The Japanese union is not based on crafts, skills or occupations: the union is on a company wide basis and covers all member of the bargaining unit. Employees identify with the company, not with a skill and they are often shifted from one job to another within the company. The worker, not fearing loss of employment, does not oppose automation; in addition, as automated production generally enhances quality and profit and conse- quently the bonus, the Japanese employees welcome the robots. In Japan the company assumes the responsibility for retraining the employees who have been displaced by the robots. The large companies, at least in the last 20-25 years have assumed the responsibility of training and retraining their employees; lifetime employment deprives most companies of the