Japan Electronics Emulates Detroit Autos Before Bankruptcy

In 2004, Kameyama, a town of 50,000 people in central Japan, boomed when Sharp started making liquid-crystal-display panels there.

Sharp dominated the industry with a 22 percent market share in LCD TVs and poured $6.6 billion into Kameyama, creating two state-of-the-art factories and 3,000 jobs. Farmland was turned into housing as workers in their 20s moved in from as far away as Brazil. Taxes from Sharp paid for the renovation of the train station and a new school with features like a castle.

Then Samsung Electronics began driving down prices, forcing Sharp to keep pace. Prices for 40-inch LCD panels fell from about $2,700 in the beginning of 2004 to $1,300 in 2005 and kept dropping until they reached $250 at the start of this year. Samsung steadily gained market share, moving to 29 percent in 2012 from 10 percent in 2004.

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