“As a Japanese, I am glad to see the return to domestic production,” says Akaemi Watanabe, Lenovo Japan president. He adds that his “goal is to realize full-scale production” at the plant, and that doing so would improve the company’s image and “make the products more acceptable to Japanese customers.”
Isn’t that interesting. Lenovo’s image needs improvement, at least to Japanese customers. Why? Because the ThinkPad is made in China and not in Japan.
But I don’t think this is just a Japan thing. It’s a global thing. There is something about stuff that gets made in China. And for good reason.
Back in 2007 Thomas & Friends recalled 1.5 million trains and rail components because a factory in China coated them with lead paint (source: The New York Times). Lead is a neurotoxin. As a father with young children with lots of Thomas & Friends toys I was furious. I wanted to blow up that factory.
Then there were 450,000 Firestone radial tires that had to be recalled (source: The New York Times. The country of origin? China.
One more: 700 tons of milk powder were recalled because melamine was mixed in (source: CBS News). Melamine is toxic. Babies could have been fed poison. Simply horrifying.
Search for “china recall” and you’ll be presented with an almost endless list of recalls from chicken jerky to HP fax machines to IBM notebook AC adapters. Which brings us back to Lenovo: No wonder Watanabe wants to improve Lenovo’s image by manufacturing ThinkPads in Japan.