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July/August 2010
Feature

Building Cooperation with Japan

ASTM Board of Directors Holds Spring Meetings in Tokyo

The widespread acceptance and use of ASTM International standards by Japanese industry made Tokyo an ideal host city for the ASTM board of directors to hold its spring meeting. From April 12 to 15, the 24-member ASTM leadership team assembled in the Japanese capital to conduct business and to reinforce ASTM’s role in Japan’s industrial competitiveness and innovation.

ASTM has close ties to Japan’s national standards body, the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee, as well as with the Japanese Standards Association, the country’s standards dissemination entity. “For many years, our relationship with our colleagues at the Japanese Standards Association has helped advance the important U.S.-Japan bilateral trade and economic relationship,” says ASTM International President James Thomas. “Our continued cooperation is evident today as technical experts from Japanese industry and government are actively engaged in more than 60 different ASTM standards committees, serving a diverse range of industries from petroleum, steel and plastics to emerging technological areas such as nanotechnology and pharmaceutical manufacturing.”

Japan is the fifth largest consumer of all ASTM products worldwide, behind only the United States, Canada, Brazil and India. Japan is the United States’ second largest trading partner, among all of the non-NAFTA member nations.

Various events comprised the fruitful week in Tokyo.

ASTM board’s presence in Tokyo captured the interest of the local media. ASTM President James Thomas was interviewed by the Japanese engineering and business press as well as by the trade press serving the chemical and metals industries. Shown here is an April 14 article from the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Ltd. (Business & Technology Daily News), a Japanese daily newspaper specializing in business and industry.

ASTM Member Orientation

Specifically for ASTM members residing in Japan, ASTM scheduled an in-depth program covering topics particularly pertinent to those already familiar with or involved in ASTM. The purpose was to provide Japanese members with a better understanding of ASTM International and the ASTM standards development process.

The agenda showcased ASTM’s advanced electronic tools, standards development process, policy perspectives and how ASTM complies with the principles of international standards development set forth by the World Trade Organization. Facts such as ASTM’s 16-18 month average development time for a new standard, and 6-9 months for revisions, were of interest to an audience made up of standards developers from among the 200 Japanese experts who participate in ASTM International.

Industry Conference

On April 12, ASTM International, in cooperation with the Japanese Standards Association, sponsored an industry conference titled “Standardization and the Global Marketplace.” JSA President Masami Tanaka, who is currently serving the second of a three-year term as a member of the ASTM board, opened the program, which provided insights into the connection between standardization and success in the marketplace. Following a welcome from ASTM President James Thomas, a slate of speakers covered the standards scene in various regions of the world.

Torsten Bahke, CEO of Germany’s national standards body, Deutsches Institut für Normung, and a member of the ASTM board of directors, spoke about the cross-benefit of standardization to his country’s economy. Presenting the advantage to Germany in quantitative terms, Bahke said, “The economic benefit of standardization in German amounts to approximately 20 billion Euro, or one percent of the gross domestic product. Standardization in Germany is viewed as a strategic way to business success.”

A presentation from Sadao Takeda, vice president of policy for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), introduced the new ISO 2011-2015 strategic plan, due for approval by the ISO General Assembly in September. The draft plan includes an objective to pursue cooperation with standards development organizations with a high competence and global reach for the purposes of adding value and to realize the efficient development of international standards.

Mary Saunders, deputy assistant secretary, manufacturing and services, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, covered the U.S. government’s role in standards and its emphasis on private-sector solutions. “In its goal to protect health, safety and the environment while not creating unnecessary barriers to trade, the U.S. government has more than 3,200 federal government staff participating in private sector standards development activities. Approximately 9,000 voluntary consensus standards are referenced in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Eighty percent of trade is affected by standards,” said Saunders.

The viewpoint of the Japanese manufacturer was given by Shigeo Suga, president of Suga Test Instruments, a Tokyo company whose product lines include test and measuring instruments for corrosion and optical properties. “Since we are a manufacturer of test instruments, we believe that standards are very important. As the technology progresses, test methods will also change,” Suga said.

In a presentation titled, “ASTM International: Connected to the World,” ASTM’s Thomas said that products are more effective and relevant in the global marketplace when they are based on performance-based standards that are of a high technical quality and kept up-to-date. Thomas highlighted ASTM’s globally recognized efforts to embrace transparency and openness in standards development and to promote a broader acceptance and use of a range of international standards based on criteria such as the WTO principles.

The workshop concluded with a group discussion on standardization efforts around the world. The attendance was outstanding and the workshop resulted in a constructive exchange of ideas.

University Visits

With some 5,000 student members from around the world, and with academic outreach in its sixth year, the ASTM board and staff took the opportunity to visit universities in the Tokyo area. They spoke to students and professors at five universities about standards education and the role of standards in the classroom.

University of Tokyo (Department of Technology Management for Innovation, School of Engineering)
Members of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency also attended and made a presentation about their use of ASTM composite material standards.

Aoyama Gakuin University (Department of Integrated Information Technology, College of Science and Engineering)
ASTM’s presentation here was broadcast to another campus via video conference hook-up.

Waseda University (Graduate School of Global Information and Telecommunication Studies)
Two courses on standardization are taught here, which are funded by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Chiba Institute of Technology (Department of Management Information Science)
The College of Science and Engineering at Chiba also has a course on standards and ASTM board member Masami Tanaka is often a guest speaker. Chiba has an active co-op program and students discover how companies use standards.

Tokyo Institute of Technology (Department of Technology Management)
Tokyo Institute of Technology also has a course on standardization focused on standards as part of business strategy.

Outreach Day

One full day of the April 12-15 meetings was dedicated to outreach, where members of the ASTM board and senior staff had face-to-face meetings with key individuals in areas where ASTM standards are globally influential.

Traveling in teams of board members and staff, 11 different groups set out into Tokyo and the surrounding area. Each team made four visits, meeting with the leadership of trade associations and ministries as well as corporate offices and universities. The list below shows the organizations visited.

Automotive

  • Suzuki Motor Corp.
  • Petroleum Association of Japan

Building Construction

  • Institute of International Harmonization for Building and Housing
  • Geo-Environmental Technology Research Center
  • Figla Co. Ltd.
  • Kajima Corp.

Cement

  • Japan Cement Association
  • INAX Corp.
  • ZENNAMA
  • Taiheiyo Cement

Chemicals

  • Nippon Carbide Industries Co. Inc.
  • Japan Plastics Industry Federation
  • Japan Paint Manufacturers Association
  • Bridgestone Corp.

Consumer Safety

  • Consumer Product Safety Association
  • Accessible Design Foundation of Japan
  • Japan Electrical Safety and Environment Technology Laboratories
  • National Institute of Technology and Evaluation

Renewable Energy

  • Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry)
  • Japan Electric Association
  • Japan Power Engineering and Inspection Corp.
  • Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry

Global Commerce

  • Japanese Industrial Standards Committee (within METI)
  • National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
  • Japan External Trade Organization
  • New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization

Materials

  • National Institute for Materials Science
  • National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
  • Medical
    Medical Information System Development Center
    Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare
    Commerce and Information Policy Bureau (within METI)
    Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency

Metals

  • Japan Iron and Steel Federation
  • Nippon Steel Corp.
  • Japan Titanium Society
  • Alconix Corp.

Nuclear

  • Agency for Natural Resources and Energy
  • Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency
  • Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The 2010 ASTM International board of directors. Seated, from left: Toy S. Poole, Peter M. Woyciesjes, Marilyn L. Baker, Masami Tanaka, Michael R. Withers, Mary H. Saunders, Ronald J. Ebelhar; second row, from left: Richard F. Kayser (past chairman), Eric R. Boes, Thomas A. Schwartz, Kenneth F. Yarosh (vice chairman), James A. Thomas (president), Roger E. Stoller (chairman), Catherine (Kitty) H. Pilarz (vice chairman), Benedict R. Bonazza, Torsten Bahke, Mary C. McKiel; top row, from left: Ricardo Rodrigues Fragoso, Ricky W. Magee, Robert D. Thomas, Paul K. Whitcraft (past chairman), Carroll D. Davis, Randy F. Jennings, Paul H. Shipp (chairman, Finance and Audit Committee), Warren O. Haggard.

Hajime Sasaki and Board Chairman Roger Stoller

Guest Speakers

Hajime Sasaki, Japanese Standards Association chairman since 2001, opened the formal ASTM board meetings with an introductory speech. Mr. Hajime confirmed that industry relies on standardization as a market strategy and that living up to international standardization means living up to market expectations. He emphasized the strong relationship between JSA and ASTM.

Michitaka Nakatomi, president, Japan External Trade Organization, spoke about Japan’s Trade Policies, their history and widening scope. He covered Japan’s regional economic integration in East Asia, East Asia’s importance as trade partners for Japan, and beyond regional integration in Asia.

Gregory Loose, counselor for commercial affairs, U.S. Embassy to Japan, in his speech on the U.S.-Japan relationship, highlighted the vital role standards play in facilitating international trade and economic development in global markets. He explained that firms involved in developing and applying standards enjoy competitive advantage in the international marketplace. “The meetings this week are so significant. ASTM standards play an important role in design, manufacturing, and trade, said Loose.” He noted that this year Japan is hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, and the United States will be hosting the meeting in 2011.