Motormouth: If anything made in Japan must be good, then anything made in-out Japan should be just as good

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Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1706446270543 If+Anything+Made+In+Japan+Must+Be+Good+ +Featured

“Made in Japan” means sky-high quality, proven reliability and time-tested durability, but how about “Japan-made in Thailand”?

Well, ever since I was a small boy with slightly bigger dreams, I have always believed that anything “Made in Japan” (MiJ) must be good, and anything made elsewhere in Asia is probably not as good, including China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. 

Even though South Korea shook this belief with their pop-culture invasion and automotive achievements, I continued to have faith in the quality, reliability and durability of everything MiJ, from household appliances to personal effects. 

I remember my unhealthy teenage obsession with ixi:z wallets and stationery, which turned otherwise ordinary secondary-schoolboys into “individually basic” guys who were cooler than the rest. 

When I received a black ixi:z wallet from my sister for my 16th birthday, which replaced a way cheaper and slightly kiddish multi-purpose pouch, it took me from puberty to liberty and added some wow to my simple life. I became an “individually basic”, uh, individual thanks to the stylish wallet from Japan. 

When I needed a watch for my National Service, I bought a Casio G-Shock, which served me like a tough buddy and ran like clockwork, whatever its mission, from 6:00am reveilles to overnight recces. The trusty timepiece, my Singapore army sidekick on my wrist, finally broke into several chunky pieces after a few years of in-camp reservist training.

Ironically, that Japanese watch wasn’t made in Japan. The country’s business trend of manufacturing certain consumer products outside of Japan, within Southeast Asia, had already begun, with Thailand as a prime location. Casios and Seikos which used to be exported from the Land of the Rising Sun, started to be produced in the Land of Smiles. 

There was usually some qualifier in the packaging and collateral to market these Thai-made watches as Japanese, such as “Japan movement cased in Thailand” or “Created in Tokyo & crafted in Bangkok”.

I think the Japanese watch makers in question should have used Japlish instead to either convince or confuse the unsuspecting buyers who took a closer look. “Made from Japan”, “Made of Japan” or “Made in-out Japan” might have worked.

The same trick wouldn’t work for Japanese cars which were assembled in Thailand for Asean markets. This production formula has been successful for Toyota and Honda across our region, although Singapore continues to have a sizeable soft spot for JDM (Japan domestic model) cars.  

Incidentally, Japanese car companies and their fellow-countrymen suppliers which built factories in Thailand didn’t do it just because Bangkok is the Detroit of the East with lower wages, more competitive costings, cheaper industrial land and a supportive Thai government. 

They did it so that their outstation Japanese directors/managers could play golf as often as they wanted on the outskirts of Bangkok, without breaking the Bank of Japan. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1706446513877 If+Anything+Made+In+Japan+Must+Be+GoodHmm, are these car components made in Japan or made in-out Japan?

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