Why is Japan number 1 in robotics

Robots: Japan covers 52 percent of global demand

Frankfurt / Tokyo (ots) - Japan is the world's number one manufacturer of industrial robots. Nippon's production capacities reached a new record in 2016 with 153,000 units. Japanese companies currently cover 52 percent of global demand. These are the results of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), which were published in the run-up to the International Robot Exhibition (iREX) in Tokyo from November 29 to December 2, 2017.

"Japan is a highly automated country where robots are even building robots," says Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). "As the statistics show, automation is driving robot exports and domestic investment at the same time. Robot sales in Japan rose by 10 percent in 2016 to around 39,000 units - the highest level in the last ten years."

Japan strong in exports

In 2016, Japan exported a total of almost 115,000 industrial robots valued at 309 billion yen (approx. 2.7 billion US dollars) - by far the largest export volume in a year. The export quota rose from 72 percent to 75 percent (2011-2016). The main export regions: North America, China, Korea and Europe. The Japanese imports of robots, on the other hand, are extremely low with only about 1 percent of the installations. Accordingly, foreign robot suppliers achieved only a small sales volume in Japan. For Japanese manufacturers, on the other hand, the domestic market has recovered strongly since the financial crisis in 2009.

Automotive and electrical / electronics industry leading

The automotive industry is the largest target market for industrial robots in Japan, accounting for 36 percent of total demand. The number of units sold to automobile manufacturers increased by 48 percent compared to 2015 (2016: 5,711 units). The outlook remains positive: Japanese automotive suppliers are leaders in the production of hybrid cars and are increasingly investing in automated drive technologies. In addition, further investments will follow in order to save weight and energy with newly developed materials. The progressive reduction in production capacities in the Japanese home market is likely to have a negative impact on domestic demand for robots. Conversely, foreign investment continues to increase. The Japanese car companies are increasingly expanding their production facilities, particularly in China, but also in other Asian countries, as well as in the USA and Mexico.

After the strong growth in the electrical / electronics industry in 2015 (11,659 industrial robots), a decline of 7 percent followed in 2016. However, the electrical / electronics industry has preferred to invest in production facilities abroad. With the increasing demand for chips, displays, sensors, batteries and other technologies related to electromobility and Industry 4.0 (networked industries), further commitment in this area can be expected.

The two most important sales sectors for industrial robots in Japan - automotive and electrical / electronics industry - together account for 64 percent of the total supply (2016). Robot sales increased 8 percent in both sectors. In all other industries, the market increased by a total of 14 percent.

Japan outlook 2020

The Japanese economy is benefiting from increased foreign demand, especially from China. Then there is the expansionary monetary policy of the Bank of Japan and the weak yen. Based on the forecasts of the Japanese Robot Association (JARA), the IFR expects an increase of around 10 percent for installations in its home market for 2017. Between 2018 and 2020, if the economic recovery in Japan continues with further average annual growth of around 5 Percent to be expected.

iREX International Robot Exhibition Tokyo - November 29th to December 2nd, 2017

The international robot fair iREX in Tokyo was first held in 1974 and has been held every two years since then - this year for the 22nd time. In 2015, 446 companies and organizations took part in iREX. With 1,882 stands, the 22nd iREX set a new record and is one of the most important robot fairs worldwide.

The English and Japanese versions of the IFR press release can be found here: https://ifr.org/ifr-press-releases/

IFR Japan data overview

Please find below an overview of the new IFR data about industrial robots in Japan:

Japan - new peak in 2016


  • 38,586 new robots installed (new record), 10% higher than in 2015
  • CAGR 2011-2016: + 7%
  • Global ranking 2016: No. 3
  • Shares of total supply: handling operations 36%, welding 22% automotive industry 36%, electrical / electronics industry 28%

Stock of operational robots

  • About 287,300 units, slight increase over 2015 (286,600)
  • CAGR 2011-2016: -1%
  • Global ranking 2016: No. 2
  • Shares of total stock: Handling operations 36%, welding 23% Automotive industry 35%, electrical / electronics industry 31%, metal and machinery industry 10%

About the IFR - The International Federation of Robotics: www.ifr.org

Inquiries & contact:

Carsten Heer
+49 (0) 40 822 44 284
[email protected]