Kyushu is known as the birthplace of many leading Japanese enterprises, including Nippon Steel, Bridgestone and Asahi Kasei, and is the base for the shipbuilding operations of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. For decades, numerous businesses on the island have been involved in manufacturing, including the production of raw materials and chemicals, as well as in heavy industries. This has cultivated Kyushu's deeply-rooted, highly-competitive and highly-concentrated manufacturing culture that provides sustenance to the entire Japanese economy.
Kyushu’s importance to the Japanese automobile industry has continued to grow, and now three major companies?Nissan Motor, Toyota Motor Kyushu and Daihatsu Motor Kyushu?have located their automobile assembly plants here. As the demand for Japanese automobiles continues to grow, each of these companies is increasing its automobile production capacity, with the estimated number of automobiles produced in Kyushu in 2006 breaking through the one million mark. Furthermore, as the number of vehicles produced increases, automobile parts plants are also being established, and other facilities are being enhanced. For these reasons, Kyushu has come to be known as the Car Island indicating its position as one of the largest production centers for the automobile industry in Japan.
Kyushu is also called Silicon Island because of its concentration of businesses related to the semiconductor industry. Plants here operated by NEC Kyushu, Renesas Technology, Toshiba Semiconductor, Sony Semiconductor Kyushu, SUMCO and other world-class Japanese enterprises produce about 25% of the total number of semiconductors in Japan. In addition, industries related to semiconductor products have also become increasingly concentrated in Kyushu. Canon, Kyocera, Fujitsu Hitachi and other electronics manufacturers have also opened plants here that include production facilities for cutting-edge thin-film solar cells.
With a warm climate and bountiful natural resources, Kyushu has also earned the nickname of Food Island for its vibrant agricultural sector, which produces about a fifth of Japan's food products. Furthermore, Kyushu's beautiful landscapes, delicious fresh foods and famous natural hot springs attract numerous tourists, making it one of Japan's top resort areas.