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.