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EPTE Newsletter from Japan - Tainted Chinese Imports
Monday, February 25, 2008 | DKN Research

Media groups continue to report the on going problems concerning the poison foods imported from China over the last several weeks.  Many Japanese people who consumed frozen dumplings made in China became very sick; no one was killed, but several patients developed severe food related illnesses.

All the frozen foods were made by one Chinese food manufacturer and imported by JT (Japan Tobacco Company), one of the major food suppliers in Japan.

Chemical analysis of the frozen foods in question found two types of agricultural chemicals that were recently prohibited in farming by the Chinese government (these chemicals are not sold in Japan).  Unfortunately, many Chinese farmers ignored the ban and continue to use them illegally because the chemicals are very effective in killing harmful insects on vegetables.

Once news broke of the tainted foods, Japanese discussions questioned the quality control procedures practiced by Chinese manufacturers.  We know manufacturing costs in China are very low, but quality levels are also low. Sometimes, manufacturers use un-authorized materials or equipment to further reduce manufacturing costs.  A recent example of this is the use of lead based paints for toys discovered in exports to the U.S. and other countries.   The Chinese manufacturers used this "harmful if swallowed" paint in their toys to help reduce material costs.

Companies within the electronics industry from Japan and U.S.A. import a significant amount of circuit boards and components to reduce costs.  It is a common practice to conduct inspections 100% of the time for PCB boards or components made in China before assembling to eliminate NG materials.  Over the last decade, I visited many electronics manufacturers in China, and never observed any companies with a quality control procedure in place even though they are designated ISO-9000 compliant.  The facades, conference rooms and lobbies of these companies are very modern and luxurious; however, conditions in the manufacturing lines and office areas are sub par.

Pollution in the industrial zones throughout China is now the status quo because manufacturers release many chemical wastes and smoky exhaust without filtering or treating the pollutants. The clear blue sky in the Shanghai area of Southern China is no longer visible. 

Several Japanese inspectors visited the food manufacturer in China to find the root cause of the chemical contaminations. The inspection reports surprised many Japanese people. The inspectors could not find any causes for the contaminations at the plant, and the quality control steps employed by the company were almost perfect. The buildings are kept very clean; the manufacturing processes are conducted inside clean rooms, and the workers are well trained to keep the process clean.  They wash their body before dressing in their work uniform, and pass through an air shower room before entering the manufacturing areas.

The inspectors also checked the conditions of the incoming vegetables, and did not find any possible reasons for the chemical contaminations.  The chemical infiltration remains a mystery.  The Japanese media are now speculating the rogue chemicals were introduced to serve as some form of personal harassment or political terror.

One thing I learned about news traveling is most of us generalize about an entire segment or populace over one incident.  A small act has a significant impact on a society. Many Japanese people now decided not to eat imported foods from China. This will certainly have severe financial damage to the Chinese food manufacturer and Japanese importer.  Other Chinese food manufacturers will also suffer the same fate with their exporting business. The ripples will be felt throughout the food industry in China.

I hope we discover the element responsible for the Chemical introduction to the foods, and hope it was not purposely caused by an organization.


Dominique K. Numakura

DKN Research,

Headlines of the week

(Please contact haverhill@dknreseach.comfor further information of the news.)


1.      Ibiden (The top PWB manufacturer in Japan) 2/11

Will invest 10 billion yens in 2008 for Ibiden Philippines to increase the manufacturing capacity of IC packaging materials.


2.      Tatsuta Cable (Second tier cable manufacture in Japan) 2/11

Will invest 2 billion yens to build a new plant of the flexible shielding films. Its operation will start in December, 2008.


3.      Yumex (Middle class PWB and flex circuit manufacturer) 2/11

Has filed the corporation reorganization procedure. Yumex have invested too much for the new businesses in the last few years.


4.      Shinko Seisakusho (IC substrate manufacturer in Japan) 2/13

Will double the manufacturing capacity of the FR-4 substrates for DRAM to 100 million units per month by the end of 2008.


5.      Kyoden (Major PWB manufacturer in Japan) 2/13

Has started the manufacturing of the multi-layer board in Thailand plant as the trials. New plant building will be ready for the production by April 2009.


6.      Hitachi Chemical (Major electronic material supplier in Japan) 2/13

Has developed a new laminate material series "MCL-E-679GT" for multi-layer substrates of semiconductor packaging.


7.      Toray Du Pont (Major Polyimide film supplier in Japan) 2/13

Has commercialized a new polyimide film "KaptonEN-A" with high dimensional stability for COF applications. CTE: 5 ppm


8.      Nikko Metal (Major copper product supplier in Japan) 2/13

Will start electroless Ni plating service as the pre-treatment of wafers before the building the micro bumps.


9.      Yamaha (Major mounting machine supplier in Japan) 2/13

Has commercialized a new placing machine of multiple semiconductor chips. The new machine manages 10 kinds of wafers in parallel.


10.   Ulvac (Major vacuum equipment supplier in Japan) 2/13

Has commercialized a new sputtering machine "SDP-2600VTX" for the color filter manufacturing process of 10G LCD manufacturing lines.


11.  JSR (Major electronics material supplier in Japan) 2/13

Will invest 4 billion yens to build a new plant in Yokkaichi for the manufacturing or ArF resist for high resolution photo lithography process.


Interesting literatures about the packaging industry

Articles of DKN Research


1. New "Screen Printing for High-Density Flexible Electronics", Robert Turunen, Masafumi Nakayama and Dominique Numakura, Printed Circuit FAB, October, 2007,


2. New "Total Process Solution for the High-Density Multi-layer Flexible Printable Electronic Circuits", (Japanese only) Dominique Numakura, Denshi Zairyo, October, 2007


3.New "The latest electronics package, Part XXXI, Cellular Phones", Dominique Numakura, Electronics Packaging Technology, October, 2007 


4. New "Coombs' Printed Circuits Handbook, 6th Edition, Part 15-Flexible Circuits", Dominique Numakura, McGraw Hill, New York, September, 2007


5. New "DKN Research Develops Film Base Connector", Circuits Assembly, September, 2007.


6. "Flexible Circuit Materials", (Japanese only) Dominique Numakura, Denshi Zairyo, April, 2007


7. "Business Trends and Technology Trends of the HDI Flexible Circuits -

Roadmap for the Ultra High-Density Advanced Flexible Circuits", Dominique Numakura, KPCA, October 31, 2006


From the Major Industry Magazines

PONCE, CircuiTree, February, 2008.


2. "Embedded Active Components for High-Reliability Products", Jim D. Raby, Circuits Assembly, January,  2008.


3. "Inside Reflow", Gail Flower, SMT, January, 2008


4. "OPTOELECTRONICS Comes of Age", Bruce L. Booth and Jack Fisher, Printed Circuit FAB, February, 2008.


5. "The Thermal CPB -An Approach to Thermal and Power Management-", Paul A. Magrill, Advanced Packaging, January/February, 2008


7. "Under the Hood, Efficiency vs. Speed", presented by EE Times and Techonline, October 8, 2007





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