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Japan Wood Products Price and Market Reports 
16 – 30th Apr

Japan Wood Products Prices
Dollar Exchange Rates of 
25th  Apr 2023
Japan Yen

Reports From Japan

 Bank of Japan to review ultra-low interest rate policy
The decision by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) to maintain ultra-low interest rates under its new Governor Kazuo Ueda was widely expected, however, it was the statement from the BoJ that core consumer prices are likely to rise further that had an immediate impact on the exchange rate with the yen dropping to a seven-week low against the US dollar at the end of April.

The statement from the BoJ said it will spend about 12 to 18 months to review its monetary policy.


Covid downgraded
All COVID-19 border control measures will be removed on 8 May and the legal classification of the coronavirus will be downgraded to become the same as seasonal flu. Incoming travelers will no longer be required to show proof that they have been vaccinated.

This will encourage a resumption of business travel and should boost inbound tourism which is an important element in Japan's economy.

However, warnings have been given that there is a risk that a "ninth wave" of infections is possible because of a recent rise in cases of a new, contagious, sub-variant of the virus.


Fast up-tick of consumer price index
Consumer prices in fiscal 2022 rose 3% from the previous year, the fastest gain in 41 years and the consumer price index, which excludes fresh food prices, stood at 103 in fiscal 2022 (2020+100). The pace of increase was the fastest since 1981.

Private consumption improving but spending on durable goods weak
The April economic report from the Cabinet Office says “the economy is picking up moderately, although some weaknesses are seen.” The report said private consumption is improving but spending on durable goods remains weak. Most of the rise in spending in April was on services. As a result of the recent increases in wages and the lifting of covid rules social and economic activities have picked up.

The April report revised up the assessment on imports for the first time since July 2022, saying the sector is basically flat. The March report said imports were “in a weak tone”.
Once again the report referred to slowing foreign economies because of rising interest rates and financial market fluctuations as risks for the Japanese economy.


Prices continued to increase in the first quarter of 2023, however, the government programme to support electricity and gas prices helped slow the rise in the price index. The new Bank of Japan (BoJ) Governor, Kazuo Ueda, said Japan's consumer inflation is likely nearing its peak and any further rise will be small.


Long-term employment of foreign workers
It has been reported that the government plans to expand number of sectors in its programme that allows foreign workers with specific skills to live in the country long term. The change will mean that the accommodation, agriculture and food service industries will be included. The plan is aimed at promoting long-term employment of foreign workers to help resolve worker shortages.


Yen weakens
Over the past weeks the yen/dollar exchange rate remained rather stable as inflation data was at forecast levels however, the suggestion from the BoJ that inflation will continue to rise for some time drove down the yen .

Investment in real estate slows
Over the past 12 months the inflow of money from international investors helped drive up Japanese property values. This has helped drive up land prices which, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, have risen at the fastest rate in 15 years with the main cities seeing most of the gains. However, recently the inflow of off shore funds has slowed.


Import update
Massive correction in value of wooden bedroom furniture and wooden furniture parts imports.

February 2023 wooden office furniture imports (HS 940330)
The value of Japan’s wooden office furniture (HS940330) imports in February was down 11% year on year and by 43% compared to Janauary this year. The biggest losers were shippers in China who saw their share of imports of HS 940330 drop from the over 90% in Janauary to 77% in February. In February the other major suppliers were Indonesia and Poland.

February 2023 kitchen furniture imports (HS 940340)
As was the case in January, over 70% of the total value of wooden kitchen furniture (HS940340) imported by Japan in February this year was from just two sources, the Philippines (43%) and Vietnam (23%).

Shipments of HS940340 from Vietnam in February were over 20% below that in January. On the other hand there was an increase in the value of shipments from Italy, Thailand and Germany.

Year on year Japan’s the value of imports of wooden kitchen furniture was down 6% while compared oe January there was a 7% decline.

February 2023 wooden bedroom furniture imports (HS 940350)
After the surge in the value of January imports of wooden bedroom furniture there was a massive downward correction in February. It is likely that this decline was due to the impact on trade of the New Year celebrations in both China and Vietnam.

The value of arrivals of HS940350 from China in February was down 11% while compared to Janaury there was a 25% decline. Shipments from China were down 40% in February while shipments from Vietnam dropped 15% in February.

February 2023 wooden furniture parts imports (HS 940391)
The impact of factory closures in China and Vietnam around the time of the New Year is evident in the steep decline in the value of wooden furniture parts (HS940391). Shipments from China and Vietnam were down by half in February compared to a month earlier.

The top suppliers in February were China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam and the value of shipments from each was down from a month earlier except Indonsia for which the value of imports was little changed from Janauary.

Year on year the value of Japan’s imports of wooden furniture parts dropped 12% while month on month there was an over 40% decline.

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:

JAS certification on fixture materials of LVL
Woodsland Joint Stock Company in Hanoi, Vietnam got the certification of JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standards) on LVL fixture materials on 28th, February in this year. Styrax and acacia are used to produce LVL and production is 2,000 – 3,000 cbms in a month. Sojitz Building Materials Corporation will be in charge of finding a market for studs for apartment buildings, cradling, core materials for fittings and materials for prefabricated houses. About 2,000 – 2,500 cbms will be supplied in a month.

The company got the JAS certification for its first plant. The first plant has the ability of producing over 2.7 meters of LVL for 2,000 cbms and under 2.7 meters of LVL for 3,000 cbms. The company used to produce acacia building materials to Australia but the company started to look for a new market due to intensification of competition in Australia. There are about 30,000 hectares of an afforestation area owned by the company.

About 6,000 hectares of the afforestation area has the FM (Forest Management) of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) for acacia. This certificated acacia will be supplied to Japan. However, it would take time to expand the use of acacia in Japan because many Japanese prefer white colored LVL without burls such as styrax. Therefore, the company will expand styrax LVL in Japan at first, then the company will see how the styrax LVL move in Japan and propose acacia LVL.

Use more domestic lumber for 2 x 4 construction
Daito Trust Construction Co., Ltd. in Tokyo Prefecture finished testing the strength of domestic red pine lumber for 2 x 4 construction and confirmed that the strength is enough to use.

The company had been working with Forest Research and Management Organisation and several other cooperative business associations to build 100% domestic lumber structures by 2 x 4 construction since 2022.

Japanese red pine from Iwate prefecture was used for testing the bending strength and tensions. Results of tests and analyses, Japanese red pine lumber is strong enough to use as floor joists and taruki of 2 x 4 construction. The company also designed a structure by using Japanese red pine lumber as testing. For example, domestic cedar lumber for floor joists on the 1st floor and Japanese red pine lumber for floor joists or taruki on the 2nd floor. Moreover, domestic cedar lumber and Japanese red pine lumber are for ceiling joists.

Purposes of the company are to curb climate change, to make forestry and wood industry more active in Japan, to supply domestic lumber stably and to promote using more domestic lumber. The company has been working on using domestic lumber since 2009. Now, the company procures cedar mainly from Kumamoto Prefecture, Iwate Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture.

UPM withdrew from Russia
UPM sold all its operations in Russia, including Chudovo plywood mill, to Gungnir Wood Products Trading and completed withdrawal of its business from Russia. Details of transaction are not open to the public.

South Sea logs and lumber
South Sea logs have been exported from Sabah, Malaysia to Japan for the first time in five years. Actually, a banned export of logs was lifted a year ago and logs had been exported to China until this year. Demand in Japan remains strong at shipbuilding companies and steelmakers and there are a lot of inquiries from South Sea lumber companies in Western Japan. Demand seems good so far but it depends on the economy because prices are up in the world.

The price movement of South Sea lumber and Chinese lumber in overseas and Japan are having a temporary lull. Shippers in Indonesia would not lower the prices because they were fasting for Ramadan at the end of March and they had an Islamic New Year’s holiday at the end of April so the product will be reduced.

A new platform for the J-credit Scheme
Sumitomo Forestry Co., Ltd. and NTT Communications Corporation work together for creating a new platform for the J-credit scheme and start the new platform in April. The J-credit Scheme is designed to certify the amount of greenhouse gas emission reduced and removed by sinks within Japan. Under the J-Credit Scheme, the government certifies the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, such as CO2, reduced or removed by sinks through efforts to introduce energy-saving devices and manage forests, as ‘credit’.

Credits created under the scheme can be used for various purposes, such as achieving the targets of Japan Federation of Economic Organizations to a Low Carbon Society, and carbon offset.

Those two companies start with PoC (Proof of Concept) for credit suppliers and credit users. The new cloud service platform provides information about forest resources or location of forest to the credit suppliers such as owners of forest or examining authorities and the credit users by using GIS (Geographic Information System). The services are:

 Managing information of forest business, afforesting, or reforestation with maps or pictures.
 To support forest owners or forestry organizations to create the credit.
 To support creating documents for applying certifications of the credit.
 To provide any information about the credit for the credit suppliers and the credit users for their transparency business.
 Able to search good credit suppliers.


LM        Loyale Merchant, a grade of log parcel  Cu.m         Cubic Metre
QS         Qualite Superieure    Koku         0.278 Cu.m or 120BF
CI          Choix Industriel                                                       FFR            French Franc
CE         Choix Economique                                                        SQ              Sawmill Quality
CS         Choix Supplimentaire      SSQ            Select Sawmill Quality
FOB      Free-on-Board     FAS            Sawnwood Grade First and
KD        Kiln Dry                               Second 
AD        Air Dry        WBP           Water and Boil Proof
Boule    A Log Sawn Through and Through MR              Moisture Resistant
              the boards from one log are bundled                      pc         per piece      
              together                      ea                each      
BB/CC  Plywood grades. Letter(s) on the left indicate face veneer(s), those on the right backing veneer(s). Veneer grade decreases in order B, BB, C, CC, etc. MBF           1000 Board Feet          
              Plywood   MDF           Medium Density Fibreboard
BF         Board Foot F.CFA         CFA Franc        
Sq.Ft     Square Foot  PHND             Pin hole no defect grade
Hoppus ton     1.8 cubic metres              Price has moved up or down

Source:ITTO'  Tropical Timber Market Report