Regional Economics Division,
Community Promotion Department,
Koto City is located in between the Arakawa River to the east and the Sumida River to the west, facing the Tokyo Bay to the south. Besides, with many small intra rivers and canals crisscrossing the City, the local industries such as glass wares, textiles, paper products, metals, taking advantage of the water availability, have developed. In addition, the Shin Kiba area is highly concentrated with lumber companies priding in their traditions with the industry size being the largest in Japan. Koto City started a new project of “KOTO BRAND” in fiscal 2015. We interviewed Assistant Manager Katsuki Yamane, Assistant Section Chief Shinichiro Kurihara, and Deputy Section Chief Katsuya Orita, who belong to Regional Economics Division of the Community Promotion Department, on KOTO BRAND.
(from left) Assistant Manager Katsuki Yamane,Assistant Section Chief Shinichiro Kurihara, and Deputy Section Chief Katsuya Orita, of Regional Economics Division, Community Promotion Department
Koto City conducts “Surveys on Actual Conditions of Industries in Koto City,” by which it grasps and analyzes the latest conditions of manufacturers and shopping streets within the City. According to the latest report for FY 2013, the existing manufacturing and commercial sectors clearly showed a declining trend; in particular, the number of factories in the manufacturing sector decreased by 40% over the past 10 years.
Whereas such a declining trend is highlighted by the survey’s figures, the results of hearings-based questionnaires made as a part of the survey, on the other hand, showed the network of manufacturers in the ward has been still functioning sufficiently despite the increased changes in the function of manufacturers of the City. The survey also found out that the manufacturers trying to develop businesses actively show a stronger tendency to run their businesses by taking full advantage of the good location of Koto City. The good location implies the easiness of getting and transmitting information, better commuting conditions, better distribution conditions, shorter distances to customers, easier procurements of materials/components and the existence of many related business operators. Thus, the analytical results obtained indicate that Koto Ward has a big potential as a region for manufacturers, which allows a wider range of corporations and individuals to make exchanges and collaborations one another far beyond those made within the ward, offering them a stage for exchanging and transmitting information.
Furthermore, hearings-based questionnaires allowed us to confirm a clear trend to follow the direction emphasizing the idea of “Koto City which is easy to create an image for” after trying to find out a proper direction for public relations of Koto Ward as to increase the “regional attachment.”
The business concept of “Koto Brand” was worked out based on such results and became a project which kicked into gear in FY2015.
Poster of KOTO BRAND
The logo of KOTO BRAND adopts a design combining two Ks symmetrically to mean “inheritance (‘keisho’ in Japanese) and innovation (‘kakushin’ in Japanese),” which is a slogan of KOTO BRAND. The purpose of “KOTO BRAND” project is to certify firms that develop businesses evolutionally as KOTO BRAND, in order for wide range of general consumers and buyers to get to know them, as well as for firms and Koto City to improve their images.
The firms certified by KOTO BRAND are allowed to use the logo, and the City offers benefits including supports for inter-business partnerships and promotions of products and technologies of firms certified by the City.
The number of certified firms so far (as of March 2016) is 29, and communications among certified firms have become active.
“Corporate atmosphere and motivation of employees have been improved among some firms after they were certified as KOTO BRAND,” Yamane says.
Currently the City promotes KOTO BRAND products at various exhibitions, including Tokyo International Gift Show to improve awareness and images, and holds regular exchange meetings among the certified firms to enhance their partnerships.
“At the initial stage, the certified firms took wait-and-see attitudes, i.e. waiting for something from the City. As they repeated exchange meetings and study meetings, they have changed their stance to initiate actions provocatively, and the project culture has changed accordingly. We’re looking forward to seeing more changes,” Kurihara says.
In the future, it is expected for the project to accelerate technological exchanges, which could lead to new product developments through collaborations among certified firms.
“The firms, which get to know the KOTO BRAND via the City’s PR and wish to join the project, have increased. We’re happy if the project could promote industry-university collaborations in the future,” Orita says.
The KOTO BRAND project, in which the certified firms as a group propagate the attractiveness and power of industries in Koto City, could develop further as a promising project.
A photo of certified corporations as exhibitors at Tokyo International Gift Show
Presenting at Koto City Festival for Inhabitants/Industrial Exhibition