Celebration of JAB's 20th anniversary - Hitoshi Kume, JAB Chair -

Hitoshi Kume
JAB Chairman


In November this year, JAB will mark its 20th anniversary. Rather than celebrating the anniversary of JAB, we decided it would be more appropriate to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the whole quality system certification scheme in Japan. This is a comprehensive system made up of an accreditation organization, certification organizations, and organizations that receive certification. JAB is the accreditation organization within the system, but JAB cannot survive on its own: its role is to ensure that the certification bodies are competent to undertake their activities.

The JAB system was initially established as a private sector initiative, through the huge efforts of the late Yotaro Iida, who served as the first Chairman, Takashi Otsubo, who served as the first Representative Executive Director, and other interested parties. I am delighted that we are able to celebrate the 20th anniversary of JAB and acknowledge with gratitude the hard work of our predecessors.

Since it is a private system, in which the beneficiaries share the costs, all the funds necessary to operate the system, including the cost of maintaining the accreditation and certification organizations, as well as the assessment/registration costs, are borne by the organizations which receive assessment/registration. For this reason, there was initially some opposition to the implementation of the system, as there was concern that it would impose a financial burden on corporations and thus decrease their international competitiveness.  In my opinion, however, this system is comprised of internationally established organizations. Moreover, there are accreditation organizations and certification organizations, as well as accreditation and certification assessors, in most of the countries that we trade with, so Japan is not at a disadvantage.  That said, the organizations and members in each country do not all perform equally, and thus it is possible that significant differences will arise among the countries.  I believe that by operating as effectively as possible, our country will in fact be at an advantage. In order for the system to be utilized effectively, the following efforts are required:

  • Organizations receiving assessment should use this system to the extent possible, focusing on continuous improvement and building quality capacity.
  • The system must operate efficiently, and hold down the costs and the number of personnel required.

Over the past 20 years, what results has the system produced?  A direct evaluation of the results should be based on how far product quality in Japan has improved and to what extent quality-related problems have decreased. It is difficult at this stage to know the answer to this. It may, however, be possible to make a rough estimate of value based on the number of organizations that have received certification. Currently, slightly less than 40,000 organizations in Japan have received quality management system (QMS) certification, and this figure has remained unchanged over the past several years. The situation in environmental management system (EMS) certification is similar, with 20,000 corporations having received certification, a figure that has been static over the past several years. At the annual quality management system symposium held by JAB, there were some outstanding case studies presented to illustrate the benefits of QMS certification. From this year, environmental management system certification will be integrated with QMS into a single symposium and I hope this will stimulate an increase in the number of organizations seeking certification in the future.

In order to improve the performance of the system and make it even more beneficial to Japanese corporations, it is necessary for all parties and organizations concerned to continue to work even harder. To achieve this, JAB’s role is of the utmost importance. I appreciate your continued support and encouragement.


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