Minolta is to shift its camera production from Japan and Malaysia to Shanghai in two years. The move is designed to boost profits for the camera maker who manufactured their first camera back in 1928. This follows the announcement made in September of 2,500 job cuts over three years. No jobs are scheduled go in Japan following the move but workers in Malaysia may not be so fortunate. "We will reduce the number of workers at our domestic camera division in Japan from 900 to 500, but all will be moved to other divisions," Maruyama said. "Although we have not reached any final decision, we cannot help but ask some workers at our Malaysian plant to leave," the spokesman said.

Minolta to end camera production in Japan

TOKYO - Japan's top camera maker Minolta said yesterday it would shift camera production from Japan and Malaysia to Shanghai in two years as part of a drastic restructuring plan aimed at boosting profits.

"We plan to consolidate our production in 2003 [in Shanghai] and are working towards achieving this goal," said Minolta spokesman Akihisa Maruyama.

No jobs are scheduled go in Japan following the move but workers in Malaysia may not be so fortunate.

"We will reduce the number of workers at our domestic camera division in Japan from 900 to 500, but all will be moved to other divisions," Maruyama said.

"Although we have not reached any final decision, we cannot help but ask some workers at our Malaysian plant to leave," the spokesman said.

"In Malaysia, we will continue producing camera parts, but must dismantle the camera assembly lines."

Some 15 percent of overall sales come from Minolta's loss-making camera business, the Osaka-based firm said.

Minolta produces more than 100,000 high-end single-lens reflex cameras and high-end digital cameras annually at a plant in Sakai, Osaka prefecture, western Japan, while Minolta Malaysia Ð wholly owned by the Japanese parent Ð produces 600,000 digital cameras a year and has 1,100 employees.

Camera production will be shifted to China by doubling annual production capacity at a Minolta joint venture in Shanghai to three million cameras and increasing staff levels to some 2,000 employees from 1,100.

Minolta hopes its camera division will generate a pre-tax profit of 44.5 billion yen (US$366 million) in the year to March 2004, compared with an expected loss of four billion yen this year to March 2002.

But sales from the sector to March 2004 are seen at 90 billion yen, unchanged from a target for the current fiscal year.