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Recent industry news from Japan Lumber Journal regular article, “News in Brief”

The Japan 2x4 Home Builders Association, an incorporated organization, recently began construction of a wood constructed, 6-story, full-scale experimental building using the 2x4 construction method. The design was carried out by the association and the architectural firm of Nihon System Sekkei Inc., and the construction is being carried out by Seibu Construction Co., Ltd. The construction area covers 39.85 m2, and the total floor area will be 201.75 m2. As a joint research with the Building Research Institute, a National Research and Development Agency, the experimental building is being constructed at the institute located in Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture, and it is scheduled to be completed by this March. With the awareness of mid to large wood constructed buildings rising, a 4-story building has already been constructed using the 2x4 construction method. In order to make this into a 6-story building, the following conditions are required: 1) the 1st and 2nd floors have a greater structural strength and fire resistance performance and 2) following the increased height, the building has greater resistance to wind pressure, greater water tight performance, and greater earthquake resistance performance. With this experimental building, the following points will take place: development and verification of a high strength bearing wall and 2-hour fire resistant structure, application and verification of floor construction using the panel construction method, and verification of these leading technological developments and their constructability, durability, and habitability. By actively promoting this experimental building to the public, the wide spread and awareness of the change to wood construction of high-rise buildings is being planned.

According to the "Summary (Approximate Numerical Values) of Results of the Census of Agriculture and Forestry", which the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries released to the public on November 27, the number of agriculture and forestry management entities was 1,402,000 as of February 1, 2015, and compared to the previous survey taken in 2010, it decreased 18.8%. Within that number, the number of forestry management entities was 87,000 decreasing 38.1% compared to the previous survey of 5 years ago (1,400,000 management entities). It decreased more than half (57%) from 10 years ago (200,000 management entities). The area of forest land nationwide was 24,813,628 hectares, and within that area, the area of government-owned forests was 7,203,202 hectares (comprising 29%), and the area of privately owned forests 17,610,426 hectares (71%). The area of forest land (forestry percentage) accounted for 65.6% of the total land area of Japan (excluding the Northern Territories), and it fell 1.2 points compared to the results of the survey taken 5 years ago. Looking at the area of forest land based on the type of ownership, private ownership was the largest with 13,550,000 hectares (comprising 54.6%) followed by ownership by the Forestry Agency with 7,060,000 hectares (28.5%) and public ownership with 337 hectares (13.6%). Looking at Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures, which were greatly damaged by the earthquake and tsunami during the East Japan earthquake disaster, the number of agriculture and forestry management entities was 141,000 decreasing 23.1% compared to the previous survey. Within that number, the number of forestry management entities was 9,000 decreasing 43% compared to the previous survey.

The Japan North American Lumber Conference held its 51st board of directors' meeting on December 7 in Tokyo. At the start of the meeting, Ryozo Ema, the chairman, gave the opening greetings and said, "The demand for imported lumber decreased not solely for North American material, and the drop in prices occurred as a chain reaction. The environment surrounding the lumber industry is in a severe state, but there is also a bright outlook that is expected from the increase in lumber usage for non-housing properties" prompting a lively exchange of opinions.  At the meeting, the demand forecast for North American lumber by region based on the survey results of each branch was also announced. According to the forecast, the expected amount of demand nationwide for North American logs in 2016 is 2,678,000 m3, and the expected amount of demand for lumber products is 2,254,000 m3 with logs rising 2.8% compared to the previous year and lumber products falling 1.3%. The amount of demand for logs for the Chugoku region, where Chugoku Mokuzai and other large-scale lumber factories are located, is the largest with 1,300,000 m3 (1.2% increase compared to the previous year) followed by the amount of demand for the Keihin region, which includes the Kashima Lumber Factory of Chugoku Mokuzai, with 709,000 m3 (6.1% increase compared to the previous year). The largest amount of demand for lumber products is expected to be the Keihin region with 944,000 m3 followed by the Hanshin region with 430,000 m3 in 2nd place and the Nagoya region with 270,000 m3 in 3rd place.


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