Medium and small enterprises serve as the backbone of larger industries in Japan, said Kazuo Minagawa, Consul General of Japan, Chennai, on Saturday.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Business opportunities with Japan,' jointly organised by the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Institute (MSME-DI), Chennai, Mr. Minagawa said 94 per cent of the industries were small and medium enterprises (SMEs). They were only supporting the bigger industries. The SMEs in Japan were involved in manufacturing innovative products.

Japan was poor in natural resources. The country was importing everything except rice. About a century ago gold was available in the country. But, today nothing is there. The country exported sea food items such as shark fin, sea cucumber and sea shells to Taiwan, China and a couple of other countries in Southeast Asia, he said.

In May this year the office of Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), which was hitherto functioning at Bangalore, was shifted to Chennai. This was a long cherished dream of the Tamil Nadu Government. The main objective of the JETRO was to promote external trade between two countries particularly the SMEs, he added.

Shinya Fujii, Director General, JETRO, Chennai, in his presentation said Japan was a market of enormous potential. The country has consumers with high purchasing power and Japan is the gateway to the Asian market.

The SMEs in Japan, though small in scale, were very innovative. Many of them possessed unique technologies in their niche segments. Automotive, Information and Communication Technology, Eco-business and pharmaceuticals were some of the potential sectors where business opportunities were available, he said.

Prof N. Krishnaswami, president, Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and S. Sivagnanam, Director, MSME-DI were among those who spoke.