Japan aims for self-sufficiency
By Wood Markets
Feb. 26, 2014 - Although North American softwood log and lumber exporters have been enjoying a resurgence of Japanese demand in the past year, various industry indicators suggest it will be short-lived.
With the new federal government clearly pursuing a much stronger Japan-focused economic policy (higher inflation rates and a lower-valued yen) to stimulate the economy, imports will become more expensive and domestic wood products relatively less so. In addition, there are many signs of a change in Japan's drive to become more wood self-sufficient, such as a near-quadrupling of the number of sawmills using domestic logs, log exports having more than doubled, new/higher quality standards for structural wood products, a large new sawmill and laminating plant in Kyushu, and the weakening Japanese yen; collectively, these have made Japanese log exports more competitive.
Of course, the growth of the domestic species wood industry depends to a large degree on price competitiveness with wood imports. The success (or lack) of the government's new economic direction will have a tremendous impact on future wood imports and Japanese self-sufficiency in wood.
(The full Wood Markets article provides further details, with charts to tell the whole story.)