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Japan Wood Products Price and Market Reports 
01 – 15th May

Japan Wood Products Prices
Dollar Exchange Rates of 
10th  May 2023
Japan Yen

Reports From Japan

 Corona reclassified to same level as seasonal influenza
As of 8 May the Japanese government categorised the corona virus at the same risk level as seasonal influenza. This means the government will no longer restrict people’s movements and everyone will be free to make decisions on protection. Under the new category, Covid-19 vaccinations will continue to be free through this fiscal year as infections could continue spreading.


Wage increases made to hold onto staff
A Finance Ministry survey showed over 60% of companies in Japan have raised or plan to raise base pay in fiscal 2023 as they struggle to find and keep skilled workers. Most of the companies saying they will raise wages were in the manufacturing sector with almost 70% saying they have, or will, raise wages this year compared to 52% last year.

The survey asked the reasons for raising wages and over 80% said this is to motivate employees, improve their labour conditions and encourage them to stay with the company. Other respondents said they did so"to respond to rising prices”.


Business sentiment at lowest level in two years
A Bank of Japan survey showed that in the first quarter of this year business sentiment dropped to the lowest level in more than two years as weak global growth was viewed as a risk to the export-reliant economy.

The sentiment index for big manufacturers fell in the first quarter, the fifth straight quarter of decline and the worst since December 2020. In contrast, mood in the service sector recovered in the first quarter as border controls were eased and the easing of covid restrictions opened the way for a rebound in tourism and personal consumption.

Modest recovery in consumer sentiment
The modest recovery in consumer sentiment since January this year continued in April with household’s expectations of inflation coming down slightly. The positive consumption data has been considered as a possible trigger for the Bank of Japan to adopt a more normal monetary policy.

Behind the more positive sentiment was the wage increases agreed at the start of the year, but inflation and price inceases for basics have whittled away most of the wage hike gains.

The government kept its assessment of consumer confidence unchanged as the improvement in April was small. The rising cost of living could result in a slowdown in consumer spending later this year as the Bank of Japan has said consumers will continue to face more inflationary pressures.


Address economic fundamentals to stabiles yen
Late last year the domestic newspaper The Mainichi published an editorial on the yen exchange rate and the sentiment expressed back in October 2022 is just as valid today.

The Maninchi said the yen’s rapid depreciation is not just the result of the US dollar rising but also suggests currency traders are "selling off Japan" as the economy weakens. The Mainichi warns action is needed.

The yen's depreciation stands out in comparison to other major currencies which seem to signal a need to address some economic fundamentals. As a resource poor country Japan depends on imported energy and much of its food needs and the weak yen has created a record trade deficit.


Concept of ‘workation’ promoted
Seven prefectural and 58 municipal governments in rural Japan have come together to promote the concept of “workation” or telecommuting from resorts and other vacation spots thus combining work and vacation. The new group aims to build a business model that involves more than sightseeing but less than permanent migration.

Getting urbanites to appreciate rural life is expected to lead to migration growth in these areas and help rural authorities solve problems stemming from a shrinking population.

Start-Up offers forest management to private owners
Much of the private forests in Japan are in poor condition but harvesting and reforestation are beginning to attract attention. A start-up company in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture has begun offering forest management services to private forest owners and is promoting reforestation of unused land.

The company claims reforestation is attractive to young people from urban areas as they can work in a natural environment. The company adopted a flexible work style allowing employees to decide their own shifts and have second jobs. The company has said the domestic timber industry has long been in a slump because of low priced timber imports and an increasing area of forests has been left untended or abandoned after logging.

According to the Forestry Agency only around 30-40% of land logged each year is replanted. In the five years through fiscal 2018 the cumulative total of unplanted land was around 2,560 square kilometres. In 2016, the government designated forestry as a “growth industry” and will introduce a tax of yen 1,000 per taxpayer from fiscal 2024 for subsidies. The government is already expanding subsidies to forest owners to encourage them to grow trees. A forest management law of April 2019 allowed municipalities to entrust forest management to private companies on behalf of owners.

Import update

Assembled wooden flooring imports
Over the past 5 years there has not been such an erratic swing in the monthly values of assembled flooring imports. Clearly the trading pattern changed in the first quarter of this year.

The value of Japan’s imports of assembled wooden flooring (HS441871-79) in March was up 40% year on year and month on moth there was a massive 90% rise in the value of imports. The monthly rise in imports stems from a sharp increase in imports from both China and Vietnam as in each country full production and export deliveries recovered after the Spring Festivals.

Three shippers accounted for over 70% of Japan’s imports of assembled flooring in March, China 50%, up on February and Vietnam 16%. There were no shipments from Vietnam in February. Other significant shippers in March were Malaysia contributing 7% to the total value of imports and Thailand accounting for 5.5%.

Plywood imports
First quarter 2023 plywood imports were down over 30% compared to the first quarter of 2022.

The downward trend in Japan’s plywood imports continued in March 2023 with both of the main shippers, Malaysia and Indonesia seeing volumes drop. On the other hand shippers in China and Vietnam have seen volumes holding steady over the past 12 months.

In March this year shipments of plywood from Malaysia were down around 35% compared to a month earlier with shippers in Indonesia seeing a slight rise in volumes shipped to Japan.

Plywood shipments to Japan from China picked up in March (doubling compared to February) bringing shipments back to the average for the past 12 months.

March shipments of plywood from Vietnam rose slightly after the downturn seen in February.

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:

Wood use promotion
There was an announcement about a result of using wood for buildings of 2022 from The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and other departments. Agreements of using wood for buildings were concluded with Japanese government for 10 cases and with local government for 60 cases. 15,100 cbms of lumber were used for buildings during October, 2021 to March, 2023. It was 732 cases.

Buyers purchase domestic softwood plywood only for the present use. The prices of 12mm, 3 x 6 structural softwood plywood are 1,800 – 1,850 yen, delivered per sheet. This is around 50 yen down from last month. At some precutting plants, the prices are lower than 1,800 yen.

Plywood companies started reducing production since last October. Total production during October, 2022 to March, 2023 is 23.6% down from the same periods last year. Shipment had been sluggish and the inventory increased until February. However, the shipment exceeded production in March.

Plywood companies in Eastern Japan continue reducing production in May and the companies took the holiday longer than usual holiday at the beginning of May. The prices of 12mm 3 x 6 painted plywood for concrete form are 2,000 yen, delivered per sheet. However, a purchase price was around 2,300 yen so it is hard to get profits.

Some of the reasons are that the future price of painted plywood for concrete form in overseas decreased to $750, C&F per cbm from $850, C&F per cbm last year. Also, the import cost decreased around 2,000 yen, C&F per cbm.

145,716 cbms, of imported plywood were received in February, 2023 and this was 22.9% less than the same month last year. This is nearly 40% down from the peak in last year. A small amount of imported plywood will be received until May and the inventory will decline.

Domestic logs and lumber
The prices of domestic lumber and logs have been adjusted. The log market is getting weak as the prices of domestic lumber fall through the nation. The prices of domestic lumber in Kanto region had been low until February and then the prices of domestic lumber in Western Japan also started to fall in March.

The price competition between laminated whitewood post, laminated cedar post and solid KD cedar post became intense.

Since there were too much laminated whitewood posts and laminated cedar posts, the prices were declined for major precutting plants.

The log market in Tohoku region started falling since last autumn. The log market in Northern Kanto region declined in February, 2023 and in Kyushu area and Western Japan declined at the end of March through April.

Plywood companies in Tohoku region reduced producing plywood since last autumn and log demand decreased rapidly. Log demand for plywood companies is over 30% less than the previous year. Moreover, the production of lumber and laminated lumber decreased and the log market fell.

In Northern Kanto region, the prices of cedar log plunged to around 12,000 yen from 18,000 yen, delivered per cbm in February to March. The prices of cedar log stopped declining in April.

In Kyushu region, the prices of cedar and cypress are now around 17,000 yen in April. The prices had been over 20,000 yen until February.

Production of CLT will rise at Cypress Sunadaya
Cypress Sunadaya Co., Ltd. in Ehime Prefecture estimates that the product of CLT will be 9,000 cbms in a year. It is doubled volume of the previous year’s result. The company is the largest cedar lumber and laminated lumber company in Japan. 30,000 cbms of logs are consumed in a month.

The CLT production in 2022 was 4,500 cbms. A reason for an increase of production is that the company does business for World Expo 2025 in Osaka Kansai. Also, the company introduces a new special machine for producing large CLT panels in this October.

The production of laminated structural lumber will be 60,000 cbms in a year and it is 3% up from the previous year’s result. 50,000 cbms of 60,000 cbms logs will be cypress lumber such as posts, foundations and beams. Consumption of logs will be 300,000 cbms in a year.

The production of cedar dimensional lumber will be 1,000 cbms from 700 cbms in a month. The prices of SPF decreased after the woodshock but cedar dimensional lumber is more popular than SPF. The company purchased four new dryers and special automatic cutting machines to expand production.


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