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Expectations of the APO: Asia’s Development through Productivity Improvement

3 Jul 2008

The Productivity Newspaper, published by the Japan Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development (JPC-SED) on the 5th, 15th, and 25th of every month, carried an editorial entitled “Expectations of the APO: Asia‘s Development through Productivity Improvement” in no. 2237 on 15 July 2008. The APO translated the article into English for your benefit, with the permission of the JPC-SED.

APO’s Establishment and Mission

One of the key factors in the successful development of the postwar Japanese economy was the productivity movement based on management techniques and technology from advanced nations. Many Japanese went abroad to acquire advanced knowledge that was vital to their industry and business sectors so that the battered Japanese economy could be reconstructed.

Taking advantage of such experiences, the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) was established in 1961 through multilateral cooperation among member countries in Asia and the Pacific, in collaboration with the Japan Productivity Center (JPC). Its mission is to contribute to the socioeconomic development of the Asia-Pacific region by enhancing productivity to improve the standard of living. Currently, the APO consists of 20 member countries and regions.

The philosophy of the APO is based on the 1944 Philadelphia Declaration of the ILO with its principle that: “Poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere.” Based on that principle, the APO took advantage of the JPC’s network to develop human resources and exchange technology and knowledge by spreading the productivity movement in the industry, service, and agriculture sectors. Some areas of specific focus have been monozukuri (the art of manufacturing), labor-management relations, training of consultants, and quality management activities, on which Japanese technology and know-how were transferred to other member countries.

Upon establishment of the APO, all member countries who joined designated a National Productivity Organization (NPO). Hence, the APO plays an important role as the only international organization specializing in productivity in cooperation with representatives of member governments.

Recent activities for the enhancement of member countries’ socioeconomic infrastructure included releasing statistics on economic indicators, international productivity comparisons, and Green Productivity projects.

Budgeting system

The operational costs of the APO are covered by member countries’ contributions based on their GNI released by the UN. The Japanese government has been providing significant funding utilizing its ODA budget. Thus, the APO’s activities have contributed to the enhancement of the Asian economy in the most effective manner at low cost. In this sense, the APO should be considered as a truly meaningful asset to Japan.

Future outlook

Inspired by the APO’s example, there has been a recent surge in establishing similar productivity centers in South America and Africa. This clearly confirms that the APO’s activities continue to enhance the development of member countries, which leads to the improvement of living standards.

APO’s role in the 21st century

Taking into consideration the challenges that Japan must confront in the 21st century such as the aging population, declining birth rate, and decreasing population, slow expansion of both domestic consumption and production is expected. In order to overcome such challenges, a strategic initiative for further development is economic cooperation with East Asia. The successful, sustainable development of the Japanese economy will bring vital energy from East Asia. In this sense, the role of the APO is expected to become even more significant to Japan. For that purpose, the JPC-SED, as the NPO of Japan, is committed to making continuous efforts to share its knowledge and information.

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