Interview with Aki Ohno, Organizer of the Japan Inkjet Technology Trade Fair.
The Japan Inkjet Technology Trade Fair is held in Tokyo. As a special partner of this exhibition, drupa interviewed the organizer Aki Ohno, who gave some information on his career and an overview of the trade fair and the Japanese printing market.
Being the world’s leading trade fair for the printing industry, drupa is pleased to be a special partner of the Japan Inkjet Technology Trade Fair (JITF2022). Aki Ohno, an independent consultant promoting inkjet technology and business and head of the JITF2022, not only has a long career in the printing industry but also strong connections to Germany and drupa. As a Germanophile who has a very personal connection with Messe Dusseldorf’s home base country, he sees himself as a bridge between Germany and Japan and in this context has also made it his mission to support drupa – especially since we have declared sustainability to be one of the main topics at drupa 2024. After all, he sees inkjet technologies as an important building block for a sustainable future.
In an exclusive interview with drupa he shared his thoughts not only on JITF2022 but also on the Asian printing market.
Drupa: First of all, we would be pleased to hear what brought you to the printing industry and what role you play there?
Aki Ohno: I have been working for Konica Minolta (KM) for 39 years, 22 years for the copier and printing division, and 17 years for the inkjet division. My last title was that of an executive officer: the division director inkjet. Now, after working for KM, I am acting as an independent consultant, head of the OIJC (Ohno Inkjet Consulting), and a professor at Yamagata University Inkjet Development Center to promote the inkjet industry from both the business and technology side.
Drupa: With your expertise and by representing the first Japan Inkjet Technology Trade Fair, you can surely give us an insight into the Japanese or rather Asian printing industry.
Aki Ohno: I see the worldwide inkjet industry as follows: The Japanese develop devices (inkjet heads), Europeans develop printing machines to use these, then the Chinese follow what the Europeans are doing. Japan is closed off, and the Japanese tend to stay in Japan and would not see what is happening overseas. We have eight inkjet head manufacturers, but the application is not as active as in Europe and China. I want to build a bridge between Japan and overseas for the sleeping Japanese to wake up.
Drupa: drupa is the leading international trade show for the printing industry. So it is no surprise that you are quite familiar with it as well. Having said that, what led to your strong link with drupa?
Aki Ohno: As explained before, I once worked for the copier and printer division at KM, the main exhibition of which was CeBIT. Meanwhile, CeBIT shifted from office printing to software and communication technology, and drupa became the perfect alternative not only for KM but also for Ricoh, Canon, etc., which wanted to expand their focus from just office printing to cover commercial printing.
Later, I moved from the copier and printing division to the inkjet division. I met Ms. Sabine Geldermann in person at an inkjet-related conference and learned that drupa is also expanding from conventional offset printing to the toner-based digital printing technology to cover the inkjet technology as well. The header photo shows a picture of our first encounter.
Drupa: drupa is a special partner of the Japan Inkjet Technology Trade Fair. Which connection exists between the two print fairs?
Aki Ohno: Japan Inkjet Technology Fair 2022 is not the typical trade fair for printing machines but more for its elements, including inkjet head, ink, material, parts, software, and integrators.
I am inviting CEOs and board member classes of major companies that are involved in the inkjet business such as Epson, Fujifilm, Konica Minolta, Komori, etc. In order to offer an opportunity for Ms.Geldermann and her team to warm up their long-term relations and friendship, I invited them together with some staff of Messe Dusseldorf Japan to join the Japan Inkjet Technology Fair 2022.
I will also introduce many other companies that have not yet had a relationship with drupa to Sabine-san and the Messe Dusseldorf office to develop future business relations.
Drupa: As the very first print trade show in Japan, there will definitely be a lot of new exhibits at the front. What trends and key areas of focus will be featured at the trade show?
Aki Ohno: Inkjet is expanding its possibilities and opportunities in various directions. Replacing conventional printing has been the main direction so far. I would focus on some future-oriented directions, including “digital manufacturing” and “additive manufacturing”, which are still new and on the way to growing.
Of course, I will not forget the big market to replace the existing market by emphasizing the sustainability inkjet could offer.
Drupa: Online events have become more popular in recent years. What made you decide in favor of a presence trade fair? What advantages do you see in face-to-face exhibitions compared to online ones?
Aki Ohno: We have learned enough about the positive and negative sides of online events. In the early phase of COVID, we had no alternative to online meetings and events.
The positive point we found was that we could save the cost and time of traveling. We could have meetings or join events without emitting CO2 by flights. I believe you know another 100 positive points from your own experiences.
The most negative points of online are the missing of “touch and feel”, “excitement and attraction” and “by chance”. Two and half years of a long period without “touch and feel”, “excitement” and “by chance”, we are all bored and eagerly expecting live events to happen.
I want to touch and feel the print sample, I want to hug old friends whom I may meet by chance at Messe, and I want to go to Uerige in Altstadt to enjoy Altbier together! Only having online events is somehow “imbalanced”. We should smartly use both online and live events case by case.
Thanks to Aki Ohno for the inspiring insights and new knowledge about the Japanese printing industry and the Japan Inkjet Technology Trade Fair.
If you would like to know even more about the printing expert, you can visit his website HERE.