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CNN Today

Quality Control Questions Tarnishing 'Made in Japan' Label

Aired September 15, 2000 - 1:13 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Bridgestone/Firestone's parent company is -- Bridgestone, which is Firestone's parent company, is based in Japan, and it's only one of several prominent Japanese firms that have faced recent questions about quality control.

As CNN Tokyo bureau chief Marina Kamimura reports, those questions are removing some of the luster from the "Made in Japan" label.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARINA KAMIMURA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mitsubishi Motor's stunning revelation that it covered up defects in its cars for at least 23 years; a food poisoning outbreak sickens nearly 15,000 Japanese and triggers a rash of complaints over unsavory discoveries in processed food, everything from lizards to flies. Each time, the "Made in Japan" label that consumers worldwide have grown to trust and respect takes a hit in the marketplace.

HIROKAZU YAMANASHI, MCKINSEY & COMPANY: Many have started to questioning about the credibility on that products and the brand itself.

KAMIMURA: Just ask the tens of thousands of small businesses that have helped corporate Japan build its reputation.

"We all used to think that we should never build even one inferior product," says this man. "I still think that way, but I do not think that applies to everyone anymore."

"It feels to me as though the pride and spirit people used to have for making things is fading," says another.

One of the reasons behind the changing perceptions in Japan, a more savvy consumer, no longer content to accept everything the corporate elite says.

"Corporations have made fools of consumers," says this woman. "Even if we speak up, companies have tried to shut us up."

NAKANISHI: I think the consumer is changing. Clearly, the consumer is very much aware of their right. Power is shifting from the corporation to consumers. KAMIMURA (on camera): Others say, just like Japan's economy, "Made in Japan" is just going through a reality check. After years of being at the top, followed by years of prolonged recession, some companies are struggling to find their way.

Marina Kamimura, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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