Automation and ‘Thailand +1” Strategy of Japanese Companies in Thailand by Thai Engineers

Mayasuki Kondo



Japanese companies have the second largest number of overseas manufacturing sites in Thailand after in China. To cope with labor cost increase, on one hand, they automate their production processes using robots. On the other hand, they establish satellite manufacturing sites in neighboring lower labor cost countries. This movement is called “Thailand+1” Strategy. The paper discusses these two movements comparing with the experiences of Japanese companies in Japan in the late 1980s coping with rapid Japanese Yen appreciation. The paper discusses that the automation in Thailand now is more systematic and needs system integrators and that local engineers need to be trained as system integrators since the technological operation in Thailand is already heavily localized. In the case of Japan in the late 1980s, shop-floor workers were needed to be mechatronics operators since individual machines became IT (Information Technology) -based. For the “Thailand +1” Strategy, only a part of production process, which is heavily labor-intensive, is moved out as a satellite factory, while in the case of Japan in the 1980s a whole assembling process was moved out and many parts suppliers followed.  Another difference is that local engineers (Thai engineers) play an important role in technology transfer in the case of the “Thailand +1” Strategy, while Japanese engineers transferred technology to overseas factories in the case of Japanese companies in the late 1980s.  Japanese companies have become globally operated from Japan-centered.


Keywords: Automation, Thailand+1 Strategy, Japanese Companies, Thai Engineers

Full Text:



ITI. (2016). 2015FY Report: Can Mecon Region Take Advantage of Opportunities of China+1 and Thailand+1 (in Japanese), ITI Research Series No. 26, March 2016.

Japanese Patent Office. (2015). Patent Application Trend Report – Macro Study – (in Japanese), March 2015.

JETRO. (2018). 2018 Survey on Business Conditions of Japanese Companies in Asia and Oceania (in Japanese), December 2018.

JETRO. (2019). 2019 Survey on Business Conditions of Japanese Companies in Asia and Oceania (in Japanese), November 2019.

Kondo, M. (1999). Characteristics of Microelectronics Automation and the Role of Production Engineers – The Case of Japan Based on a Questionnaire Survey, Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing. Vol. 9 (2) 185-201, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Kondo, M. (2010). Private-Sector-Driven International Technology Transfer with the Initiative of a Recipient Country - The Case of Technology Promotion Association (Thailand-Japan) -, Proceedings of PICMET 2010, Phuket, Thailand, July 18-22, 2010, pp. 527-534. ISBN: 1-890843-22-9.

Kondo, M. (2019). Japan’s Monozukuri Technology Transfer to Thailand+1 Destinations (in Japanese), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Academic Conference of Japan Society for Research Policy and Innovation Management, Tokyo, October 26-27, 2019, pp.382-386.

Kondo, M. (2019). Thai Industry: Automation and Robot Use are Advancing (in Japanese), Techno Salon, Nikkei Business Daily Newspaper, page 6, October 29, 2019

Kondo, M. (2021). Automation and “Thailand+1” Strategy of Japanese Companies in Thailand by Thai Engineers, Proceedings of The 17th ASIALICS International Conference, Online, November 3-5, 2021, pp. 302-314.

Oizumi, K. (2013). The Potential of the “Thailand-Plus-One” Business Model―A New Fragmentation in East Asia―, RIM Pacific Business and Industries Vol. XIII, No. 50, pp. 2-20.

Onozawa, M. (2013). Mekong Countries – How to use Thailand+1 – (in Japanese), JETRO Sensor, June 2013, pp. 56-57.

Seki, M. (1997). Beyond Hollowing Out (in Japanese), Nihon Keizai Shimbun Shuppan.

Umezaki, S. (2017). Current Status and Issues of Thailand+1 Investment (in Japanese), IDE World Trend, No. 265, P.5, November



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 STI Policy and Management Journal

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Copyright of Journal of STI (Science Technology Innovation) Policy and Management Journal (e-ISSN 2502-5996 p-ISSN 2540-9786). Powered by OJS.