Seminars & Events

APL (Ajiken Power Lunch)

Neoliberal Competition and Local Advantage: A Case of a Japanese Car Parts Factory in the Small Island Developing State of Samoa

APL (Ajiken Power Lunch) is a lunchtime workshop open to public, including IDE staffs, visiting research fellows, IDEAS students, outside researchers and graduate students. This workshop provides a platform for presentation of any work in progress where we can discuss in either English or Japanese.

Those who would attend a seminar are asked to announce yourself to receptionists on your arrival at the IDE and to obtain APL Organizers' signature on your admission card after the seminar.


January 18, 2019. (Friday) 13:30-15:00

Neoliberal Competition and Local Advantage: A Case of a Japanese Car Parts Factory in the Small Island Developing State of Samoa
Samoa is a small island developing state with a total population of about 195,000, located in the heart of the Pacific Ocean. To this small island nation, a Japan-based multinational car parts maker shifted its labor-intensive factory from Australia in order to reduce production costs and maintain competitiveness in the global automotive markets. Since its establishment in 1991, this Japanese factory called Yazaki Samoa has been the biggest private employer, contributing significantly to the Samoa’s development especially in terms of job creation. In 2017, despite the wishes of factory workers and the Samoan government, Yazaki Samoa ceased its operation and left the island. The closure was a direct impact of Australian government decision to stop subsidizing carmakers in Australia, which led the end of Australia’s car manufacturing industry and the loss of Yazaki Samoa’s clients. This confirmed critiques of the way in which multinationals could exploit workers in developing countries as ‘disposable commodities.’ In such view, low-paid factory workers are seen typically as powerless victims of neoliberalism that undermines their situations and promotes inequality between the core and peripheral countries. This paper, however, moves beyond these views and explores the ways in which the Samoan factory workers used their multinational employment to expand choices in their lives. It aims to argue that less powerful social groups, like factory workers in small developing countries, could exercise their agency in the seemingly irresistible and agentless force of the globalizing economy and take advantage of neoliberal competition for their own benefits.
Masami Tsujita Levi (Centre for Samoan Studies, National University of Samoa)



Institute of Developing Economies, APL Organizers
E-mail: APLE-mail