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Japan Wood Products Price and Market Reports 
01 – 15th Apr 2024


Japan Wood Products Prices
Dollar Exchange Rates of 
10th  Apr 2024
Japan Yen
153.00

Reports From Japan

 

 No currency intervention as yet
After the mid-month US inflation data was released there
was a period of yen selling which drove down the yen to
153 to the US dollar, a level not seen since 1990. This
decline, it was considered, would possibly result in a
Japanese government market intervention as it did in 2022
to halt the decline.

As more signs point to a strong U.S. economy, market
expectations are waning for the Federal Reserve to cut
interest rates in June.

Economic boost from infrastructure investment
The leaders of Japan, the US and the Philippines held their
first trilateral summit and announced the launch of the
Luzon Economic Corridor plan aimed at improving
connectivity and infrastructure in the Philippines. There
will be coordinated investments in infrastructure projects,
including railways, ports, clean energy and semiconductor
supply chains. All three partners anticipate a boost to their
economies from this initiative.

The economic corridor will help connect four areas on
Luzon Island, Subic Bay, Clark, Manila and Batangas and
will be developed under the G7's partnership for Global
Infrastructure and Investment, a counter move to China's
Belt and Road Initiative.

See: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20240412_29/

13th consecutive year of population decline
According to a demographic survey by the Ministry of
Internal Affairs and Communications as of October 2023
Japan's population fell by 595,000 from a year earlier to
total 124,352,000, the 13th consecutive year of decline.
Household size is also continuing to shrink. The country
continues to grapple with a declining birthrate, young
people avoiding marriage and a rapidly aging society.

In 2020 the number of single households accounted for
38% of the total, according to the data by the National
Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

See: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2024/04/a857f5993191-japan-population-falls-below-125-mil-down-for-13th-straight-year.html

Bankruptcies rise among small and mid-size
companies
In fiscal 2023 the number of corporate bankruptcies
(liabilities of at least 10 million) rose 32% from the
previous year to 9,053, exceeding 9,000 for the first time
in nine years. The survey, by Tokyo Shoko Research,
showed in the year through March bankruptcies mainly
rose among small and mid-size companies as they
struggled to raise prices to reflect higher material and
other costs. Labour shortages were also behind the rise in
bankruptcies.

The number of companies that collapsed after using a
COVID-19 relief programme that offered virtually
interest-free and collateral-free loans rose 14% to 622.

The construction sector, which is struggling with higher
material and labour costs, saw bankruptcies surge 39%
while the service sector recorded 3,028 bankruptcies, up
35%.

See: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20240409_13/

23rd consecutive monthly of decline in real wages
Workers’ real wages fell again in February, the 23rd
consecutive month of decline as consumer price increases
accelerated which will be factored in to the Bank of
Japan’s policy discussions.

Data from the Ministry of Labour shows real earnings for
workers dropped 1.3% in February from a year earlier, a
steeper decline than in the previous month.

Young couples being left behind as home prices soar.
Tokyo Kantei Co., a real estate assessment company, has
indicated there are reports of condominiums in the central
Tokyo area selling for more than 100 million yen
(US$653,000) close to prices during the real estate bubble
era in the 1980s.

Now, only very wealthy households or couples with two
incomes can afford to purchase homes in central Tokyo.
There are not many households thinking about buying a
residence in the capital. Under the current market
situation, young couples looking for a home are being left
behind.

The government implemented various measures, such as
long-term low-interest loans to encourage home purchases
and this has driven up prices.

See: https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15227965



The yen fell to a 34-year low of 153 yen against the dollar
here on April 10, driven by speculation the Federal
Reserve will delay cutting interest rates due to rising U.S.
inflation. The yen depreciated despite indications the
Japanese government and central bank might intervene to
prop up the Japanese currency.

In 2022 the US started raising interest rates to rein in
inflation and market players have been expecting interest
rate cuts this year.

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said Japan will respond
as appropriate to excessive volatility to minimize the
negative impact of a weaker yen on people's livelihoods
and the broader economy.

A weak yen was once welcomed by exporters, particularly
automakers that form the backbone of the economy. In
recent years, however, the negative side has become
increasingly clear amid higher import costs for energy and
raw materials which has hurt household spending.

See:
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20240412/p2g/00m/0bu/013000c

and
See: https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15226597

January wooden office furniture imports (HS 940330)
As was the case in December last year China and Malaysia
were the top two shippers of wooden office furniture
(HS940330) to Japan accounting for over 90% of total
January arrivals. The value of exports of HS940330 from
China in January increased month on month and
shipments from Malaysia surged by a factor of three
compared to the value of December shipments.

Year on year the value of Japan’s imports of wooden
office furniture rose 22% and month on month January
imports were up almost 50%.

January 2024 kitchen furniture imports (HS 940340)
January marked the third monthly decline in the value of
wooden kitchen furniture (HS940340) imports into Japan.
Year on year the value of imports of HS940340 in January
was down 17% and compared to a month earlier January
imports dropped 10%.

Shippers in the Philippines, Vietnam, China and Thailand
accounted for 86% of the value of January arrivals of
wooden kitchen furniture and the top three shippers all
recorded month on month declines in the value of
shipments, only shippers in Thailand managed to maintain
the same value of shipments as in December last.

January 2024 wooden bedroom furniture imports (HS
940350)
The value of Japan’s imports of wooden bedroom
furniture (HS940350) continued to surge ahead. January
2024 imports were around 25% higher than in December
last year and marked the fifth straight monthly increase in
the value of imports. There has been little movement in
housing start over the past months leaving only the
replacement market and demand in the hospitality sector
as possible drivers of demand.

Over 90% of the wooden bedroom furniture imported into
Japan in January was from China and Vietnam and there
was a rise in the value of shipments from both countries in
January. The only other major shipper in January was
Malaysia where the value of shipments to Japan jumped
30% month on month.

January 2024 wooden furniture parts imports (HS
940391)

Since the middle of 2023 there has been a slight upward
trend in the value of wooden furniture parts (HS940391)
imports and the value of January 2024 imports was only
just below the value of January 2023 imports which were a
record for 2023.

There is a wide range of shippers of wooden furniture arts
to Japan. China is the main supplier followed by Indonesia
but these two top shippers accounted for only 70% of the
value of January imports but if shipements from Malaysia
and Vietnam are added to the January total then over 90%
of imports are accounted for. Shipments from China were
up 10% but the value of shipments from Indonesia was
little changed from a month earlier. The big winner in
January was Malaysia which recorded a sharp rise in the
shipments to Japan.

Year on year, Japan’s imports of wooden furniture parts in
January 2024 were down 18% but compared to a month
earlier January imports were up 16%.

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:
https://jfpj.jp/japan_lumber_reports/

Several plywood manufacturers raise the price of
plywood

Since the plywood market is weak and the distribution cost
increases, several plywood manufacturers start to raise the
price of plywood. The focus here is whether the plywood
manufacturers in Eastern and Western Japan raise the
plywood price or not and whether the plywood market
reaches the bottom or not.

Nisshin expands reducing products and raise the plywood
price- Nisshin Co., Ltd. in Tottori Prefecture and Shimane
Plywood Co., Ltd. in Tottori Prefecture, which are Nisshin
Group’s companies, will raise the price of 3 x 6 structural
softwood plywood by 5 % as of April, 2024.

Reasons for the increase in the price are that the price of
distribution costs and subsidiary materials, such as glue,
for plywood have been rising. Also, the companies have
been reducing production and the companies must raise
the fixed costs. However, the price of plywood has been
declining so it is difficult to get enough profits. The
structural softwood plywood will be build-to-order
products after this April.

The company had been transporting plywood by a truck on
local roads usually and had taken the highways when it
was urgent business.

However, a rule for truck drivers in the distribution
business changes in April, 2024. The new rule is to
shorten the truck drivers’ overtime work by taking the
highways in principle. Therefore, the cost of transport will
be 1.3 times up from the current price. Additionally, the
cost of gasoline and of workers are rising. On the other
side, the price of plywood has been falling.

12mm 3 x 6 structural softwood plywood is 1,300 yen,
delivered per sheet in the urban areas. The price of
structural softwood plywood had been around 2,000 yen,
delivered per sheet during June, 2022 to January, 2023
because the log price was high and demand and supply for
plywood were tight. Then, the price of structural softwood
plywood started to decrease gradually.

Nisshin and Shimane Plywood have been reducing
production to keep the price stable but demand for
structural softwood plywood has been falling so the
production exceeds the shipment. The companies have
0.5-month inventories of structural softwood plywood to
supply stably.

Seihoku Corporation in Tokyo Prefecture changed the
price

Price of structural softwood plywood up by 5 – 7 % up as
of 1st, April. The company has been reducing products for
over a year to control demand and supply. However, the
plywood price kept decreasing and the distribution costs
and other materials costs increased and there are not
enough profits.

In the metropolitan area, the price of 12 mm 3 x 6
structural plywood is around 1,300 yen, delivered per
sheet. The price will be 65 – 90 yen higher than the current
price after the company raised the price. The reason for the
price hike is that the distribution cost is 20 – 30 % more
than last year. Additionally, the transport companies
would raise the distribution costs again.

The price of cedar / larch log from Tohoku region is 1.2
times higher than the beginning of 2022. Also, the price of
glue, maintenance costs of plants, labor costs and
production costs have been rising.

The plywood market has been low and distributors are
concerned about a loss margin so they just purchase
plywood to fill current needs. There are not enough
distributors’ inventories and there is a possibility that
structural softwood plywood would be in a tight supply if
demand for structural softwood plywood increased
suddenly. To avoid this situation, the company expects
that the price of plywood would reach the bottom.

Hayashi Plywood Industrial raises the plywood price
and suggests six more day offs in a year-
In Osaka Prefecture, Hayashi Plywood Industrial Co., Ltd.
will raise the price of structural softwood plywood by 5 %
as of April. The company suggests to increase annual day
offs to 110 days from 104 days to its labor union. This is
to reduce production of plywood. The union had started a
negotiation about an increase in salaries with the company
but the union decided to put priority on an improvement
on labor conditions.

The company decided to stop a decrease in the price of
plywood by reducing working days. The company will add
six more day offs annually and the company believes that
it will improve working conditions.

Other major plywood companies, which reduce
production or raise the price of plywood, are Marutama
Plywood Co., Ltd. in Hokkaido Prefecture, Nisshin Co.,
Ltd. in Tottori Prefecture and Seihoku Corporation in
Tokyo Prefecture.

The price of structural softwood plywood will be raised by
65 yen. The price of structural softwood plywood had
been 2,000 yen, delivered per sheet until January, 2023 but
the price went down to 1,300 yen, delivered per cbm
within a year. Demand for plywood has been low

Plywood Movement of domestic softwood plywood had
been sluggish January to the beginning of 2024 but orders
for domestic softwood plywood started to increase from
the end of March. One of the reasons is that domestic
plywood manufacturers, which are Marutama Plywood
Co., Ltd.,

Nisshin Group, Seihoku Corporation and Hayashi
Plywood Industrial Co., Ltd., announced to reduce
producing or to raise the price of their production as of
April.

The price of 12 mm 3 x 6 domestic structural softwood
plywood is 1,300 yen, delivered per sheet. In areas,
the price is under 1,300delivered per sheet.

Due to the accounting period March 2024, some
distributors South Sea plywood to reduce inventories
and to ensure revenue.

Then, the price of 12 mm 3 x 6 painted plywood for
concrete form is 1,950 yen, delivered per sheet.

Structural plywood is 1,750 yen, delivered per sheet.
These prices are 50 delivered per sheet, lower than the
previous month. 5.5 mm plywood is 1,170 – 1,200 yen,
delivered per sheet and this is 30 yen, delivered per sheet,
down. 2.5 mm plywood is 780 yen, delivered per sheet. 4
mm plywood is 1,000 yen, delivered per sheet. Since the
yen is weak, distributors raise the price of South Sea
plywood as of April, 2024.

In South East Asia, 2.4 mm 3 x 6 plywood is around
US$950, delivered per sheet. 3.7 mm plywood is around
US$880, delivered per sheet. 5.2 mm plywood is around
US$850, delivered per sheet. 12 mm 3x6 painted plywood
for concrete form is around US$650, C&F per cbm.
Structural plywood is US$560–570, C&F per cbm.
Plywood form is aroundUS$580, C&F per cbm.


Abbreviations

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


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