Their technical skills helped Japan's corporate giants sweep all before them in the 1980s, and now thousands of ageing Japanese engineers are finding a new lease of life in booming China.
"My profession is going out of business in Japan," said 59-year-old Masayuki Aida, who made moulds for a Tokyo-based firm for 30 years but has spent most of his 50s in Dongguan, a gritty manufacturing hub in southern China's Pearl River Delta.
With the incessant noise of car horns and a pervasive smell of chemicals, the dusty streets of industrial Dongguan are a far cry from Tokyo or Osaka. Construction sites dot the city while beggars clutching tin cans approach cars at every intersection.
For Aida and many like him nearing the national retirement age of 60 the choice was simple - face a few years without an income as Japan raises the age at which employees get their pension or work for mainland Chinese and Hong Kong companies.
"People aren't making products in Japan anymore," said Aida, who makes moulds for goods ranging from toys and earphones to coffee machines. "I wanted to pass on to younger generations all the knowledge and technology about moulds I had obtained."
Image: Aida Masayuki poses outside the factory where he now works in the township of Zhangan near Dongguan in the southern Guangdong province.
Text: Kazunori Takada, Reuters
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