Another Tidal Wave Hits Japan

Old friend Dominque Numakura comes back from the annual JPCA Show with a stunning announcement: Japan’s PCB industry seems to be on life support.

From a series of dull presentations to the outsourcing of manufacturing to a general lack of optimism, the mood is dour, Numakura says. More ominous, some veterans are comparing the trend to the decimation of the US PCB industry in late 2001.

As late as 2000, the US and Japan were neck-and-neck in annual PCB sales, with the US dominating the large board space and Japan leading in HDI. Despite the problems experienced in the US, Japan continued to be the technology leader in PCBs, leading some to surmise that its vast investment and wise decisions on which technologies to focus on made Japan impervious to the cost pressures that sunk the North American industry. Numakura’s essay suggest that’s not the case, leaving one to wonder what this means for the circuit board industry for the coming decade.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow