Global MICE Cities


Osaka has prospered as a major commercial center since ancient times, acting as a hub for domestic and international trade and cultural exchange. Merchants from all over Japan gathered in the city, setting up the world’s first commodity futures exchange and making Osaka the center of the Japanese economy, dubbed “the kitchen of Japan”. Today Osaka remains the largest city in Western Japan, and many corporations, universities and research institutes are situated in this regional hub.

In the center of Osaka is a district known as Kusuri no machi (medicine town). Since the Edo period (1603-1868), drug makers from around Japan have gathered in this area, which grew into a national hub of pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution. Today it is home to the headquarters of several of Japan’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers.
This historical background led to the establishment of many pharmaceutical research centers in and around Osaka, which have forged links with nearby universities and other institutions to create a thriving research and development environment. As the radar chart below shows, the depth of this cluster gives Osaka the highest medical industry weighting of the 12 cities in this report.
Electrical machinery manufacture is another of Japan’s backbone industries, and many companies in this sector have head offices, research centers and core factories in Osaka and the surrounding area. In addition to a high concentration of electrical machinery manufacturers, Higashiosaka, situated to the east of Osaka, boasts a cluster of SMEs that support a broad range of industries. Many of these SMEs possess advanced technologies and are domestic leaders in terms of both scale and quality.
Lying at the heart of Western Japan’s largest metropolitan area, Osaka is a major center of commerce, especially wholesaling. Long known as “the kitchen of Japan”, Osaka continues to function as Western Japan’s commercial and logistics hub, supported by infrastructure including the Port of Osaka and Kansai International Airport.

Recent Trends in Regional Industry and
Research in Osaka and Osaka Prefecture

Medicine: Regenerative Medicine and Rehabilitation

As well as being the site of Japan’s first heart transplant, Osaka University is one of the country’s leading surgical research institutes, specializing in advanced fields such as organ transplant and culture.
Osaka University’s Institute for Protein Research is one of Asia’s core protein research centers. The institute attracts researchers in medicine, chemistry, physics and biology from throughout Japan and around the globe to undertake some of the world’s most ground-breaking research in this field.
Leveraging its strong ties with pharmaceutical companies, Osaka University’s Center for Drug Discovery, Design, and Development engages in practical, efficient drug discovery research and develops new processes for every stage of drug discovery from searching for the seeds of new drugs to clinical trials.

Engineering and Robotics

Osaka University’s engineering research ranks among the best in Japan, and in recent years robotics research has also flourished. Covering a wide range of fields from communications to materials development, this research extends to development of humanoid robots including intelligent robots capable of communicating naturally with humans.
Higashiosaka, adjacent to Osaka, has a high concentration of SMEs that lead in their fields in Japan in terms of both scale and quality.
The technical capabilities of these companies are world-class. In 2002 several Higashiosaka SMEs teamed up to begin independent development of an artificial satellite, which they succeeded in launching in 2009. Following on from that project, in 2010 they took up the challenge of developing a humanoid space robot.
These types of initiatives make Osaka and the surrounding areas one of Asia’s most advanced centers of manufacturing excellence.

New Energy

Clusters of electrical machinery and materials manufacturers in and around Osaka attract companies working on every stage of new energy development, from basic research to commercialization. A vibrant new energy industry is now growing up in Osaka, making the most of these industry clusters to develop products including solar panels and batteries.
Since 2014 the Battery Strategy Research Center in the Osaka Bay area has been conducting cutting-edge research in areas such as lithium ion batteries and hydrogen grids.