Japan’s forest products exports in 2015 racked up 24.8% more sales than in 2014 to 26,300 million yen, exceeding the 2020 revenue target set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. In volume terms, log exports grew a record 32.7% YoY to 691,830m3 while lumber exports fell 10.3% to 61,621m3. Plywood exports also increased 143.7% in volume terms to 67,049m3.
Log sales accounts for the bulk of the forest products business. Japan’s main export markets are Mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan, with the Mainland accounting for more than 50% of the market share. However Japan ranks 15th as China’s log supplier and Japanese logs only make up about 1.5% of China’s total log imports.
While log sales to China can be increased, tight competition with biomass power plants—which consumes a significant amount of low grade logs—means log exporters have difficulty acquiring export logs. The stronger Yen against the Dollar has also made Japanese logs less price competitive.
Log exports to South Korea have also increased as Japanese cypress is favoured for interior finishing and furniture.