Japan is losing out to Chinese and South Korean competitors in supplying lithium-ion battery components around the world. In the 2011 financial year Japan supplied less than half of these key parts.
Global shipments of cathode and anode materials, separators and electrolytes are estimated to have grown 11.2% to US$70.2 million last fiscal year. Japanese firms’ share fell 5.7% points to 46.6%, dipping below the 50% mark for the first time since 2008.
The Japanese Yano Research Institute believes Japan’s dominance was weakened following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that halted the supply of some essential parts around the country. This, combined with the strong yen cutting into Japan’s competitiveness, meant a demand for cheaper materials grew. Another factor is the shift in South Korean battery manufacturers to use domestically made parts over imports.