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Benefits from a Concentration of Diverse Industries

The History of Osaka's Industries

From long ago, Osaka has had a developed network of water transport by ships connecting to Kyoto, Nara and Edo (currently Tokyo) and even as far as Hokkaido. It has been a place where people and things come together, which inevitably gave rise to a ‘spirit of commerce’ that led to the development of various industries.
From the Meiji period onward, in particular, Osaka became home to various state-operated spinning mills as part of the nation’s industrial development policies, leading to the dramatic growth of its textile industry centered on spinning, weaving, knitting and sewing. Osaka became the heart of textile-related businesses, as seen from its concentration of spinning and synthetic fiber companies, trading enterprises, yarn merchants, fabric wholesalers, and other associated businesses.
During this same time, Japan’s Weapons-manufacturing Office and Mint Bureau were established in Osaka, greatly influencing the later development of its mechanical and chemical industries.

Osaka – A Center of Distribution

■Market Share of Wholesale Industry by sales value (Osaka City, Tokyo metropolitan area)

In total sales, Osaka City boasts a continuously high share of the national market for textiles and clothing.

Source: The Outline of Osaka Economy,2020

In the centrally-located Senba area, wholesale-related businesses dealing in textile production and machine tools have concentrated in a specially designated area to form a unique ‘wholesaler district’.
Some great examples of major trading companies originating from Osaka that supported Japan’s rapid economic growth following the war are: ITOCHU corporation, Marubeni, Nissho Iwai Corporation, Tomen Corporation, Nichimen Corporation and Kanematsu Corporation, which achieved dramatic growth centering on the textile industry in Senba.

Osaka commerce is supported by an industrial setup composed of wholesale and retail businesses that have developed and concentrated here over the years. According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Census on Commerce, the annual sales of wholesale and retail products in Osaka, accounting for a substantial share of the market. One of the country’s pivotal distribution centers, Osaka accounted for 30% of Japan’s total wholesale value in 1960. Although following this, the textile industry began to decline and major trading companies moved their headquarters to Tokyo, recent total sales by industry have shown dramatic growth in chemical products, electrical machinery / appliances and steel products, and textiles and clothing continue to make up a high proportion of nationwide market share with just under 50% and under 20% of the total respectively. The centrality ratio that serves as an indicator for measuring the concentration of the wholesale industry has also remained at a high level, testifying to Osaka’s role as a center of distribution to the Kansai region and beyond.

Osaka’s manufacturing industry with highly-advanced technology

The character of Osaka City’s manufacturing industry consists of the following elements.

■Composition ratio for the value of manufactured goods shipped, etc. by field (comparison between cities)

In Osaka, there is a high concentration of companies with advanced manufacturing technology.

Source: The Outline of Osaka Economy,2020

  • A large number of basic material industries

    The manufacturing industry is divided into 3 categories: basic materials industry, processing and assembly industry, and daily life-related industries. Compared with other cities in terms of the value of manufactured goods shipped, Osaka has a high concentration of basic material industries, particularly with the prominent ratio of chemical industry.

  • High added value

    Osaka’s value added ratio (the percentage of the total value of manufactured goods shipped accounted for by the amount of value added products) is second only to Tokyo and well above the national average.

  • A high-density regional cluster

    In terms of the number of private business establishments, private sector employees, and value of manufactured goods shipped per square kilometer, Osaka City’s 4 eastern wards (Higashinari, Ikuno, Joto, and Hirano) are ranked among the highest in the nation, forming a high-density industrial cluster that surpasses Higashi-Osaka City and Tokyo’s Ota ward – two of Japan’s preeminent industrial hubs.

Information on Osaka's initiatives for manufacturing (monozukuri) industry by ward

Find information on each ward’s homepage regarding events and initiatives related to the manufacturing industry.

Summary of Osaka's industrial concentration

As 1/3 of Osaka City’s land is used for business purposes, it has a notably high concentration of industries compared to other cities, with nearly 3.5 times the value of manufactured goods shipped, 1.3 times the number of manufacturing office, and 1.3-1.4 times the number of wholesale private business establishments and sales value at department stores per square kilometer compared to the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Benefits from Osaka’s concentration of industries ① – Medical/pharmaceutical-related industries

Centering on the renowned ‘medicine town’ Doshomachi, Osaka is home to a concentration of industries related to medical equipment and pharmaceuticals – including major international pharmaceutical corporations – as well as manufacturers for the chemicals, machinery, and metals which support these. In terms of medicine production in particular, Osaka Prefecture is ranked third in the nation. It also carries a cluster of industries balanced with the high manufacturing technology that supports fields related to the life sciences, such as the development of medical equipment.

  • ■Share of Japanese market for pharmaceutical-related industries (comparison between cities)

    The concentration of pharmaceutical-related industries (especially manufacturing and wholesale fields) in Osaka City is remarkable within Japan.

    Source: The Outline of Osaka Economy,2020

  • ■Current situation in the top 5 prefectures for the highest medical production output.

    ・The production value of pharmaceutical industry is on the increasing trend and ranking 3rd in 2018.
    ・Osaka Prefecture has many domestic self-manufacturing companies in the country, which is the second largest in the field in 2018, just following Shizuoka prefecture.

    Source: The Outline of Osaka Economy,2020

Osaka not only boasts a high concentration of business establishments but also a cluster of medical industries, with facilities such as "Saito Life Science Park" and Northern Osaka Health and Biomedical Innovation Town (NohBIT known as "Kento"), which provide the ideal environment for fields related to health and medicine.
With the introduction of an approval system with fixed terms and conditions following amendments to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in 2014, Japan is now equipped with the world’s leading environment for basic and clinical research. Particularly in the field of regenerative medicine, Osaka is capitalizing on this potential and promoting partnerships between various corporations while working to create new industries and accelerate the realization of regenerative medicine.
Building on these activities, in 2015 the Kansai Regenerative Medicine Industrial Consortium (KRIC) was launched in order to support Japan’s first inter-company collaborations aimed at accelerating achievements of regenerative medicine.
*242 institutions are registered with the Kansai Regenerative Medicine Industrial Consortium (KRIC) (as of the end of July 2019)

PMDA (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency) The Kansai Branch has expanded its functions!

From June 2016, PMDA Kansai Branch – Japan’s only PMDA branch office – has expanded its functions and introduced a video conference system connecting with Tokyo headquarters in order to offer various consultations (face-to-face consultations) on pharmaceutical matters such as clinical trials and pharmaceutical strategies. Through the partnership between Innovative Drug Discovery and Development Support Network and PMDA Kansai Branch, support activities for the further growth of medical industry is being extended in Osaka.

Benefits from Osaka’s concentration of industries ② - The chemical industry, an industry with high value, supporting Osaka.

A feature of Osaka City’s manufacturing industry is the high ratio of industries dealing in basic materials such as chemicals and metals. The percentage made up by the chemical industry is particularly high when compared to other cities. When looking at statistics for the chemical industry by prefecture, Osaka ranks the 2nd in terms of value of goods shipped and the 1st in terms of the number of private sector employees and private business establishments, making it the foundation that supports the strength of Osaka’s industries.

  • ■Composition of shipment value by manufacturing field in Osaka City (2017)


    Source: Osaka City "The outline of Osaka Economy 2020" Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry "Census of Manufacturer 2018"

  • ■Number of chemical industry private business establishments/private sector employees and shipment value by prefecture (2016)


    Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry "Economic Census 2016-Activity Survey"

Benefits from Osaka’s concentration of industries ③ - A comprehensive industrial structure

A defining feature of Osaka is that while it has a high proportion of basic material industries, compared to other major cities, these are harmoniously balanced by a rich collection of process/assembly and daily products-related industries to create a comprehensive industrial structure.
From individual parts for manufacturing machinery to finished products, it is said there is nothing that cannot be made in Osaka.
Based on machinery and metal-related operations, the specialization made possible in this region by the concentration of a wide array of technologies serves as the source of vitality to Osaka’s industries that continually create new products and technologies.
The strength of Osaka’s growing industries in the fields of life sciences, new energy, health care and robotics are themselves supported by this rich concentration of industries related to chemicals, metals and more.

Benefits from Osaka’s concentration of industries ④ - Environment and energy-related industries

In Osaka-Kansai region, there is a large concentration of research institutes and companies related to energy and the environment, including many small and medium-sized enterprises, which offer a great deal of business potential. Particularly for solar cells and lithium-ion batteries, this region holds a large share of the market.

  • ■Export value of lithium-ion batteries

    There are many factories for lithium-ion batteries located in Kinki region, and the combined export value for Osaka Port and Kansai Airport for lithium-ion batteries accounts for 43.7% of the whole nation.


In 2016, the world's largest facility for testing and evaluating large-scale storage battery systems (NLAB) was established at the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE) in Sakishima Cosmosquare district of Osaka Bay Area, and testing services was started. By this movement, dramatic growth and active business development are to be expected in energy field in Osaka in the future.

Battery Strategy Promotion Center

In 2012, the Battery Strategy Promotion Center was opened in the Osaka Prefectural Government Sakishima Building (Sakishima Cosmo Tower) located in the Osaka Bay Area’s Cosmosquare District. This center utilizes Osaka and Kansai’s network of storage batteries together with the potential of hydrogen/fuel cell-related industries and the Comprehensive Global Strategic Special Zone Program to engage in promoting the battery industry. Centering on experts from the private sector and in coordination with the national government, business organizations, and support institutes, this center mainly carries out the following activities:
・Consultations on technical topics and business entry into fields related to storage batteries and hydrogen/fuel cells, etc.
・Support in developing projects for creating new markets for batteries (experimental demonstration fields, deregulation, etc.)
・Centering on Battery Salon (in operation since September, 2016), support in creating testing and certification businesses based on NLAB and promote activities to attract businesses in creating a regional cluster related to storage batteries.

Promoting the growing industries

Along with promoting the growing industries, which is expected to grow dramatically in areas such as health and medicine, the environment and new energies, and robotics and IoT, Osaka is working to transform Kansai into a region that attracts a large number of companies and individuals from overseas.