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Made in Japan, Taiwan, Korea… now China

When I was a child, I remember when “Made in Japan” was a label and feeling of cheap, low quality merchandise. There was the “Japanese Transistor Radio.”  As I kid, we knew that anything labeled “Made in Japan” was cheap and would not last long, toys, radios and almost anything else. I remember hearing a story, but do not know if it is true that to combat the “Made in Japan” label, they renamed a city where a lot of manufacturing was done to Usa so they could label their products “Made in USA.”

Well times changed and we now look at items made in Japan as new in technology and quality made, plus cars from Toyota are one of the brands many look for as a lasting vehicle.

Then it all shifted and we looked out for things made in Taiwan. The cheaper and lower quality items were made there. In the 80’s, especially in the car industry, came the Hyundai and then the Kia. At that time, wages in Korea were much lower than Japan so they could make cars cheaper. At first the Hyundai had no power and was structurally weak. Again over time their quality and prices with them improved.

Now living in the Philippines, but also in the rest of the world, for cheap and low quality products we see the label “Made in China.” There were also problems where products for American markets that are made in China having defects and problems. Here in the Philippines, if you want a cheap cell phone that looks like the better models, go buy one of the Chinese “Rip-offs” of an IPod or other copies. With cars, there is the Chery, an inexpensive car. One of their vehicles looks like a Chevy rip-off for a lot lmade-in-chinaess than the original. Living here in the Philippines, if something breaks and you ask why, many times you will hear “Well it was made in China.”

Well, what do you expect; China is emerging as a world leader in trade and investments. Plus the fact that labor prices are some of the lowest in the world, they can produce many things in mass production at lower cost. The unfortunate part is they do not monitor their quality or safety issues. In ten years or so, we might start to see their quality rise up the same we have seen with Japan and Korea.

So, what country will be next? Well the other day we went out to buy a small inexpensive grill. I was curious and looked at the box expecting to see “Made in China.” I was surprised to see, since I had not seen it before, “Made in Indonesia.”

What are your thoughts about good or cheap manufacturing and what countries come to your mind?

10 Responses to “Made in Japan, Taiwan, Korea… now China”

  1. Tom says:

    If they don’t straighten out their economy it might wind up being made in the USA.

    • Bruce says:


      As bad as it is getting, the US will come back. It probably will not be the same, and more legislation, but if we had a better oversite this problem would not have started.

  2. Marvin says:

    Back in the mid 70s I worked for Proto Tool Co. We made high quality tool. There where two standards, the best quality was the Proto Professional and was stamped Made in USA, the other was the Proto Challenger, but even though it was made in Oregon right along with the Professional we were required to put a Made in Japan stamp on them.

  3. don m. says:

    When I was growing up we had some small items that said made in Italy. They were made there after the war. Ten years ago my work shirts at Albertsons were made in Canada. Very good quality..Than they were made in Hondurus which were not too bad. The ones I got last week are made in China. I think I could read the paper though them. And now I have to buy my own shirts. Went through the same degressions on my old favorite Rockport shoes. The old ones were made in the us. Than portugal and now they are made in China. I didn’t even buy them the last time I needed new shoes. Now that Sears is owned by Kmart im not to sure who is making all their porducts.

    • Bruce says:

      We will never know the truth. Just like here, some places advertise Australian Beef. What they do not tell you, it as a few Australian stock of cattle brought over here and now the beef is from their linage. But still born and raised here.

  4. jan says:

    I know of a few Dutch companies who have their products (most clothing) made in African countries like Morocco, Algeria and others. Only the buttons and other small ornaments are put in Holland. The end-product will be: produced in Holland.
    So even if we think it is not so, we are being fooled by those companies.
    I think that there are more companies thinking of going to transfer their production plants to Africa soon. Asia is becoming more expensive by the day.

  5. pinaywife says:

    hi bruce,

    china goods are really cheap but sadly mostly lacking in quality and they are so fond of ripoffs. and i think that’s bad for them in the long run.

    i always have fun though with the names they attach on their products. One time my brother and I went to Quiapo Manila to check out some electronics and lol! we saw a shiny, luxurious looking phone with the brand SUNY ERIKSON.

    And here in Phnom Penh, China made phones are really super cheap. For $39 you can get two phones loaded with features and the brand name is NIKSON. The sales clerk tells me its a combinations of Nokia and Ericsson…

    • Bruce says:

      Nice hearing from you. I miss your comments and sense of humor. I hope your well.
      I enjoy the names and mistakes of Chinese translations. During the Olympics there was a site with photos from china. I think the site was
      Chinese cheap ripoffs are popular here too.

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