In the three Tohoku prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, fisheries, agriculture and their related industries are major contributors to the local economy. The Great East Japan Earthquake has had a major impact on the economy of the region. Moreover, the manufacturing industry in this region faces the risk of losing its foothold in the network of the international division of labor in manufacturing.
To put a stop to problems of unemployment in the stricken areas and to promote the recovery of the region's industries, we should aim to set up industrial clusters that are capable of leading the industrial restructuring of Japan. Specific moves would include restoring and advancing traditional industries and creating new industries that rely on new systems and schemes.
To create new industries, we believe it is desirable to establish industrial clusters in seven priority fields, namely (1) seafood, (2) agri-food, (3) super-manufacturing, (4) environment-related, (5) new resources, (6) health and medical and (7) urban-type industries by drawing on resources available in the Tohoku region as well as on its strengths built thus far.
Among these clusters, for the seafood industry cluster, efforts should be made to promote the agglomeration and sophistication of functions such as fisheries processing and logistics operations and to facilitate tie-ups between medical institutions, food manufacturers and fisheries whereby fisheries resources are used to produce health foods and supplements. The super-manufacturing industry cluster should aim to further promote labor-saving and automation in manufacturing operations such as developing leading-edge, fully automated, unmanned factories, and to develop the technology and expertise needed to be competitive with other Asian countries.
In rebuilding the industry in the stricken areas, the needs of affected companies and residents must be considered. Any efforts for reconstruction should be led by communities to the greatest extent possible. As one of the first steps towards a rapid recovery, a "special reconstruction zone" should be established, where tax breaks are provided and any regulations impeding reconstruction efforts are eased.