International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

Accelerating innovation – Assessing competition

Dr Tamotsu Nomakuchi, President AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science) and Chair of the Technology Council of JISC (Japanese Industrial Standards Committee)*


In this IEC Global Visions interview, Dr Tamotsu Nomakuchi, who is the former CEO of Mitsubishi Electric and currently presides over the most important industrial research institute in Japan (AIST - National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science), shares why he now believes that standards are an important tool to improve innovation and increase the competitiveness of Japanese industry globally.

*June 2010



Dr Tamotsu Nomakuchi, President AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science) and Chair of the Technology Council of JISC (Japanese Industrial Standards Committee)*

Dr Nomakuchi, you mention that your view on standards has changed over time, why is that?

Dr Nomakuchi: If you had asked me thirty years ago, when I was working in the industry (most recently Dr Nomakuchi was the CEO of Mitsubishi Electric), what I thought of standards, I might have said that standardization is not necessary and that it hinders technological advancement. However, we now live in a time where speed is very important. Technology progresses rapidly and there is integration between different technologies, which means that companies must now move very fast. In this context, standards play a very important role and help promote innovation and allow Japanese companies to compete more efficiently.
They are also the only tool that allows companies to judge competition and their products.

Today, Japanese companies seem to have a particular affinity with standardization. What are your thoughts on this?

Dr Nomakuchi: Japanese companies are very comfortable manufacturing high quality products. Historically speaking, our internal quality control systems allowed us to manufacture products that could be sold anywhere in the world. The delivery of such “higher than expected” quality allowed us to achieve good customer satisfaction and build a competitive advantage. However, today competition is fierce, accelerating and global. To stay internationally competitive, Japanese companies need to operate under the same conditions as their competitors. I believe that this is the key reason they place increasing importance on international standards and participate actively in their development. 

Why is sustainability such a core mission for AIST and JISC?

Dr Nomakuchi: To achieve a sustainable society it is important to address many different types of issues, including energy, resources and the environment. Humanity needs to develop major technological innovations and this requires extensive cooperation and research. AIST and JISC can help bring together many different entities which invest in R&D. Those include industry, academia, research institutions and governments. Individual companies may have many different views and ways to do things. However, when dealing with major global issues such as climate change, individual company or industry efforts will not be enough and that’s where standardization plays an important role.
For example, if you have a standardized approach to measuring energy efficiency and energy savings, then you can improve efficiencies. In this context assessment and certification are also crucial and I believe it is important to increasingly promote this aspect of standardization.

How has the IEC been helping AIST to achieve its mission?

Dr Nomakuchi: International standardization organizations like the IEC play a very important role in developing a sustainable world. We are facing many pressing global issues, which can’t be solved by one region or country alone and their number is increasing. Since the IEC is represented in both developing and developed nations, it is able to promote standardization globally to address these challenges.