Japan nearly ran out of wood in the 70s because of heavy demand both at home and abroad but forty years after, the country’s wood exports booms in Asia, Nikkei reported on Tuesday.
Japan’s forest resources have recovered over the past ten years and the country has set a goal to export an annual total of 1 trillion yen of food, agricultural, forestry and fishery products. Both private sector and government efforts were crowned by the success in 2018 when Naoto Ando, president of the export association, said that “we have to watch demand in export destinations.” According to Mr Ando, certain types of timber have been depleted in Southeast Asia, creating possible business opportunities for Japanese companies.
“Japanese wood exports to China account for only 1% of China’s wood imports, so there is a lot more room,”
Koji Fukushima, a Forestry Agency official confirmed wood export booming in Asia.
The Japan Wood Products Export Association has built model houses in Dalian in Liaoning Province, and Dongguan in Guangdong Province, to promote Japanese architectural styles. A president of the export association noted as well that the Indonesian government is preparing 800,000 wooden houses a year for low-income people, creating huge demand for wood.
“We also should promote academic exchanges, as making people understand how to use Japanese wood is very important — something we could not achieve in short time,”
Mr Ando added, saying that in 2017 exports reached 32.6 billion yen ($293 million), up 37% from the previous year and the highest in 40 years.
The Japanese forestry industry sees growing Asian markets as having much more untapped potential. China uses Japanese wood for building and packing materials. Some wood is re-exported to the U.S. after it has been fashioned into fencing for private homes.
Traditionally, the trading companies such as the subsidiaries of Nippon Paper and Oji Holdings play an important role in exporting Japanese wood products. Some trading companies export wood from their own forests or other private forests, and some bid to export wood from Japan’s national forests.