Last November was really awesome, our iMBA program finally can go together to Japan for the business trip. We visited Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, Kitakyushu Eco-Town Project and Ritsumeikan Asia Pasific Unviersity. That was a nice experience to learn from them.
During the trip in Nippon Steel, we can see how they make the steel from raw material. For me, it was the first time getting closer to steel industry. The raw materials, mostly from Iron ore and coal, are imported from many countries around the globe. The biggest coal supplier for the company is Australia with volume about 1.970.000 tons as of 2013, and the second is my home country, Indonesia, about 760.000 tons.
The representative from Nippon Steel explained how they produce the iron. Iron ore, limestone, and coal are melted in Blast Furnace about 12000C, this process is producing iron liquid which is called Pig Iron, so that can be transported using torpedo car.
Pig Iron, Scrap Iron, and Quick Lime are mixed in a converter. Then oxygen is blown from the top to the bottom of it to remove impurities such as carbon. This step produces mat-shape slabs and square-rod blooms. Then, those two kind of steel shape are delivered to a rolling process.
After the rolling process, mat-shape slabs are formed into several products such as cold rolled steel, spiral tube, electrical sheet, and stainless steel plate. Most of them are used in automotive industry. On the other hand, square-rod blooms are formed into rail road, steel bar and wire rod. The output from blooms are mostly used to produce automotive gears or connecting roads. However, due to the maintenance process, we could not see the final process.
Nippon Steel is pretty big factory. It covers three areas including Tobata, Kokura and Yahata which are mostly located in the north part of Kyushu. The size is equivalent to 237 Tokyo Dome.
The company that was born in 1896, also produces iron for various structures in Japan, including Tomei Expressway, New Tokyo International Airport, Tokyo Sky Tree, Kanmon Bridge, Tokyo Dome and many more.
During the presentation session, the company mentioned that they earned Net Sales about ¥ 5,610 billion in 2014, which is equal to US$ 45.749 billion. In 2013 they occupied 47.3% of Japanese steel market. 52.7% of their products are exported worldwide. The biggest overseas market for Nippon Steel is in South East Asia, which is about 44.7%. Following it there are China about 18.9% and North America about 10.5%. Most of their products that are sold in South East Asia market are for Automotive Industry. From this point of view, I can understand because automobile companies are shifting their assembly plants to this region due to the increasing market demand from it.
Another interesting part from our Japan’s trip was about visiting Kitakyushu Eco-Town Project. It was selected as the first green development city in Asia on the Green City Program which is promoted by Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2011. Kitakyushu initiatives were also included in the Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation, as a model practice to promote inter-local government support at the Johannesburg Summit in 2002.
During the presentation, the representative from the company explained that Kitakyushu was one of major industrial zone in Japan. It supported the country high growth during 90’s. However, the growth accompanied by serious industrial problems. Dokai Bay became very polluted, even any bacteria could not live in. The sky of Kitakyushu reached the highest level polluted precipitation in Japan. After initiating environmental reclamation for the city, local government, citizens, and companies can now enjoy a comfortable living in the region.
Since 1997, Kitakyushu city has been promoting the Eco-Town Project a unique regional policy which is integrating Environmental Conservation Policy and Industry Promotion Policy to construct a resource-recycling-based society. The project utilizes industrial infrastructure, technological capabilities, human resources and know-how while overcoming the industrial pollution in the city.
We were shown to one of their product, Eco M Wood, a technology which is being developed in the city. Eco M Wood is a recycled product from waste wood and plastic. The wood feels like a natural wood, but has superior functionality, such as water resist and long last about 100 years. Because it can be formed into any shape, it is used mostly for public facility and housing exterior. For me, this product is really awesome. It can solve the world high demands for wood. Using this technology, we can recycle the wood that we have used and reduce our dependence to wood from forest, which is good for nature in long term.
We also have the chance to visit Ritsumeikan Asia Pasific University (APU) in Beppu. The school is really nice. Located in the top of hills, APU offers a nice view to every guest who visited it, including us. On the presentation session, the Dean mentioned about the school vision to be an international university. Unlike other universities in Japan, they do not require student to be able to speak Japanese before coming to the school. Instead, they offer Japanese language program for international students during pursuing their degree. That is why, among its 6000 plus students, half of them are international students from different countries.
After introducing about NTUST and iMBA program to them, we talked to several international students there. Although not that many due to holiday session. They shared about their experience while studying in APU. I remember, there was one interesting part during the discussion. While talking in person, most of us have business card and we give it to them. However, most of students there do not have any.
Then one of the international student said that, “It is really lucky for NTUST student to have a job or internship while studying. Here in APU, we do not have that chance. Because it is pretty far from the city. We usually have a job after graduate from the school.” I think this is a good part about being a student in NTUST. Haha
Overall, from my point of view Japan is a country where we can learn many things, from technology to culture. It is developed nation while at the same time, keeping its traditional culture. During our five days there, we visited some places. We visited Kokura castle, Myoban hotspring, Kyushu National Museum, Dazaifu Tenmangu, and Komyozen-ji.
One of my favorite is Kokura castle, although the time we spent there only less that half hour, but it is worth to see the castle. The castle was built in 1602 by a Japanese warrior named Hosokawa Tadaoki. We went to the museum inside the castle. There are some heritage stuffs from the samurai period in Japan, such as armor, palanquin, and many others. The exterior building architecture is really nice with the combination of dark grey on the roof and white walls. We took many graduation pictures with other friends and professors. It was really fun to have a group picture there.
Another place that I really like is Komyozen-ju. It is a Zen temple with beautiful Japanese gardens. One small garden in front and the wider is in the rear side. We were lucky, because the color of maple leaves there were changing. We could see the color combination between, green, yellow, orange, and red. I so love it. I had the chance to capture the moment and took many pictures there.
Overall, our trip to Japan was really awesome. We visited companies and university where we can learn something new from them, and at the same time we experienced Japan’s culture for five days. Indeed, few days is not enough. However, I feel that I learn a lot. Something that we will not get, if we go for regular holiday trip. I think, I really enthusiastic to share the story about our trip to my friends. (Mufid)