Wood Products Prices
Dollar Exchange Rates of 10th
Japan Yen 131.5
Reports From Japan
Economists unanimous, wage increases
Japan’s economy returned to growth in the last quarter of
2022 helped by the lifting of restrictions on tourists which,
offset weakening business activity and exports.
Signs of improved growth momentum at the beginning of
2023 could be a factor when companies begin the annual
wage negotiations. Economists are unanimous that steady
wage increases are an essential for the post-pandemic
recovery along with a change of policy by the Bank of
Real wages in Japan rose for the first time after nine
months in 2022 thanks to robust temporary bonuses but
other data showed household spending falling for a second
month in December as rising prices offset otherwise robust
Bank of Japan Governor appointment announced
The government has nominated Kazuo Ueda an economist
and professor at Kyoritsu Women’s University as Bank of
Japan (BoJ) Governor. Haruhiko Kuroda, the current BoJ
Governor has been in the post for 10 years but has been
unsuccessful in the Bank’s aim of seeing sustainable
ecomomic expansion fueled by domestic demand.
Afforestation support for Philippines
Japan recently announced it will grant the Philippines Yen
600 billion in official development assistance to help the
country implement its economic development agenda.
This is the biggest ODA package the Philippines has
received from Japan. During a visit to Japan by the
Philippine President many agreements were signed
between Japanese companies and their Philippine
counterparts. Among the agreements was one signed by
Marubeni Corp. related to its energy, transportation, health
care and afforestation projects in the Philippines.
Yen reacts to debate on BoJ appointment
The yen briefly weakened to a one-month low of around
132 range against the US dollar in early February
following suggestions that the Bank of Japan Deputy
Chief was being considered as a successor to the current
governor whose terms ends in April.
The suggestion that the Deputy Chief would take over led
markets to believe the continuation of the ulta-low
monetary easing policy. The yen also took a hit after the
stronger-than-expected US employment data spurred
expectations of US interest rates staying at a high level for
longer than expected.
In currency markets the yen exchange rate against the
dollar steadied after the government announced plans to
nominate Kazuo Ueda an economist and former Bank of
Japan policy board member to succeed outgoing BOJ Gov.
Call to improve home insulation
In a media interview Masatoshi Takeuchi, an architect and
professor at Tohoku University of Art and Design said
"among the G7 countries, Japan is the only one not
imposing insulation requirements on housing
construction”. He added that in most developed countries
houses are built to strict insulation standards to cut energy
consumption as part of their efforts to address global
warming but Japan stuck with energy-saving policies
adopted more than twenty years ago.
The Cabinet did approve implementation of mandatory
standards for insulation by 2020 but the Ministry of Land,
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism strongly opposed it
claiming it would affect small- and medium-sized home
builders because they 'lack experience.'
Compulsory insulation requirements will not go into effect
until 2025 but already many builders are advising home
buyers that installing insulation will save energy. When
insulation standards are finally compulsory owners of
existing structures are likely to become eligible for homeimprovement
Assembled wooden flooring imports
In 2022 Japan’s imports of assembled wooden flooring
(HS441871-79) were 36% higher than in 2021 this was
despite the major downward correction in the value of
imports in the final quarter of 2022 from the peak in the
Throughout 2022 the top supplier of assembled wooden
flooring to Japan was China followed by Vietnam and
Austria. HS441875 was the main category of assembled
flooring imports in 2022.
Indonesia and Malaysia are the main sources of Japan’s
plywood imports and this has not changed over the past
decade. These two suppliers account for over 80% of the
volume of Japan’s plywood imports. There are modest
imports of plywood from shippers in China averaging
around 20,000 cu.m per month in 2022 and in recent years
shippers in Vietnam have captured market share filling the
gap left by reduced exports from Malaysia.
In 2022 the average monthly shipment of plywood from
Vietnam was around 15,000 cu.m. Indonesia and Malaysia
each shipped around 62,000 cu.m of plywood monthly to
The impact on manufacturing and exports of the response
to the pandemic in China can be judged from the steep
drop in plywood exports to Japan in 2021. Shipments from
China increased over 70% in 2022 compared to a year
earlier. 2022 shipments of plywood from Malaysia were
down 6% year on year in contrast to the 7% rise in
shipments from Indonesia.
Production and exports of plywood in Vietanm continued
to be disrupted by the covid control measures in 2022.
Trade news from the Japan Lumber Reports (JLR)
The Japan Lumber Reports (JLR), a subscription trade
journal published every two weeks in English, is
generously allowing the ITTO Tropical Timber Market
Report to reproduce news on the Japanese market
precisely as it appears in the JLR.
For the JLR report please see:
Housing starts and 2022 total
Total starts in 2022 is 859,529 units, 0.4% more than
2021’s result. This is straight two years exceeding the
previous year’s result. However, owner’s unit decreases
over 10% from 2021’s result. This result is the worst units
in the past. Level of 850,000 units is very low level in past
10 years but to compare the result of 2020, it is 5.7%
Owner’s unit in 2022 is 253,287 units, 11.3% less than
2021’s result. It did not exceed 261,000 units in 2020. In
2014, it was under 300,000 units and it was over 280,000
units in almost every year after that except 2020.
Total starts of rental and unit built for sale are good in
2022. Rental is 345,080 units, 7.4% more than the
previous year. This result is close to 2019’s result when it
was before the COVID-19.
Then rental units in 2020 decreased to 306,000 units, due
to the COVID-19. In 2021, rental units increased about
15,000 units from 2020 and in 2022, it increased about
24,000 units from 2021.
Condo is 108,198 units, 6.8% increased from 2021. Unit
built for sale is 145,992 units, 3.5% increased from 2021.
Units of condo increased for the first time in three years.
Unit built for sale increased for two years continuously.
However, unit built for sale is getting slow so total starts
in November and December, 2022 did not exceed the
same months in 2021.
Forest environment tax
According to The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries, 29 municipalities around urban areas and 13
municipalities around mountain areas make efficient use
of forest environment tax and work together.
A questionnaire survey about the use of forest
environment tax was held during September to December,
2022. 1594 municipalities of 1741 municipalities
answered the questionnaire. About 30% of people are keen
to use the forest environment tax.
They work together to maintenance forest, to recommend
using lumber, to educate about wood, forest and lumber to
children and to have events related to forest.
Japan Lumber Importers’ Association recommends
Japanese importers to get Phytosanitary Certificates from
exporters four months earlier because the new rule for
importing logs and other products will start on 5th August,
Some countries have not responded to this new rule so
Japanese importers have concerns about they might not be
able to import logs.