Absence in the Provenance? Lean Construction and Its Applicability in Japan

Akira Inokuma1, Mikiharu Aoki2, Mitsuru Shimura3, Daisuke Nagayama4 & Chikara Koizumi5

1Executive Director, Japan Federation of Construction Management Engineers Associations (JCM), Tokyo, Japan, Phone +81 (3) 3262-7420, [email protected]
2Chief Executive Officer, Toyota Production Consulting Corp., Aichi, Japan, aoki@toyotaconsulting. com
3Chief Consultant, Nippon Consultants Group, Tokyo, Japan, [email protected]
4Chief Executive Officer, Orientia United Co., Ltd, Tokyo, Japan, [email protected]
5Consultant, Nippon Consultants Group, Tokyo, Japan, [email protected]


The Toyota Production System (TPS) is generally accepted as the origin of the lean principles, and thus Japan can naturally be perceived as its provenance. However, ironically, dialogue on Lean Construction (LC) has been limited in Japan, and almost gives a perception that LC is not applied in Japanese construction projects. The authors explored the reasons for the apparent absence of LC in Japan, and found two potential causes: (1) TPS has been constantly evolving and (2) some of the concepts of LC have already been woven into the Japanese construction industry without awareness that these concepts in fact constitute LC. In other words, it may be said that misperception and unawareness may be the potential causes of the apparent absence of LC in Japan. The paper further explores the applicability of LC to Japanese construction projects by investigating and organizing the following: (1) examples of application of the LC method at conventional Japanese construction sites, (2) LC methods that have not yet been applied to construction projects but can be considered to be applicable, and (3) lean construction methods that are likely to be inapplicable to construction projects. Through this process of investigation and organization, the authors have made a LC project plan proposal.


Lean construction, Improvement/kaizen, Theory, Definition, Standardization



Inokuma, A. , Aoki, M. , Shimura, M. , Nagayama, D. & Koizumi, C. 2014. Absence in the Provenance? Lean Construction and Its Applicability in Japan, 22nd Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction , 15-26. doi.org/

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