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

The Nagano Prefecture Government, Chubu Regional Forest Office, Nagano Prefecture Federation of Forestry Associations, and Nagano Prefecture Federation of Lumber Cooperatives recently announced the supply and sales of high quality larch wood logs produced in Nagano Prefecture under the brand name of Shinshu Premium Karamatsu (Larch) starting from this autumn. Shinshu Premium Karamatsu is the brand name of high quality, large diameter logs of over 30 cm and with a length of 4 to 6 meters, and the logs are cut from man-made forests of mature larch of over 80 years old in Nagano Prefecture. Conforming to Japanese Agricultural Standards of the 1st and 2nd grade, the logs do not have knots on 2 adjacent surfaces and have 1 and less than 10% bending, and furthermore, they are selected with minimal defects such as rot, holes, cracks, and markings. They will be supplied mainly to the log market in Nagano Prefecture. As the man-made larch forests grow older in age, the characteristics of the lumber become more stable, and it becomes mature with a large diameter and difficult to bend. Compared to cedar and cypress, the larch excels in strength, and the core part has an amber color and a beautiful texture. With the advancement of processing technology in recent years, it is used as construction structural material, laminated lumber, plywood, and civil engineering material. 45% of the man-made larch forests of 80 years and older in Japan are located in Nagano Prefecture.

A fire-resistant, laminated lumber of pure wood called “FR Wood” will be used for the construction of Kanda Shrine Cultural Exchange Center (tentative name) as part of the memorial event project of the 1,300 year anniversary of the foundation of Kanda Shrine (Tokyo). This is the third time to use FR Wood and the first time to apply for a shrine. FR Wood was jointly developed by Kajima Corporation, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, and TE Consulting Co., Ltd., and it is a fire-resistant laminated lumber made only of wood lumber. Using domestic cedar material, it received the ministry certification for a 1-hour fire-resistant structure in 2012. With the themes of “bright and open space where tradition is inherited and new culture created” and “a flexible and elegant place that contributes to the revitalization of shrines and Shintoism,” the cultural exchange center (total floor area of 3,700 m²) will be constructed with 4 floors above ground and 1 basement level. The construction will be carried out by Kajima Corporation with construction beginning on June 13, and completion scheduled for the end of November next year. The 1st to 3rd floors of the building will have glass applied facing the grounds of the shrine, and FR Wood will be used on the columns and beams in the hallways and open areas of the 2nd and 3rd floors. With the exception of one part of the load bearing beams (larch material), the lumber to be used will be cedar material from the Tama region, which is deeply connected to Taira no Masakado, who is deified at Kanda Shrine.

The JK Information Center of Japan Kenzai Co., Ltd. announced the results of its survey of demand trends and forecast for the 2nd quarter (July to September) of fiscal 2017. With a term from the end of April to mid-May, the forecast survey was conducted in an interview format with 3,000 companies nationwide, and the results were tabulated. Compared with the previous survey, forecast by building firms showed a demand increase of 0.3 points, and retail stores showed a decrease of 1.2 points. The decline-in-demand-responses by retail stores are causing anxiety. Based on region, responses with an increase were seen with building firms in the 4 regions of Hokuriku, Kinki, Chugoku and Kyushu, and retail stores in the 4 regions of Kinki, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu. In other regions, the responses were the same as or slight decrease from the previous year, and overall, the demand forecast was west-high and east-low. The sales forecast by major manufacturers in the fields of plywood, wood building materials, ceramics, insulation, and housing equipment showed over 50% responding with the same as the previous year, about 30% responding with increase, and 20% responding with a decrease forecast with the largest decrease forecast being made by manufacturers of wood building materials. Manufacturers are expecting overall that demand in good condition will continue. The sales average per housing unit for renovation/remodeling by building firms had the highest number in the price range between 1.0-2.5 million yen. Construction for earthquake resistance and thermal insulation, which carries a high price, is a heavy financial burden on the owner and has not expanded. Orders received for renovation/remodeling by large electronic appliance stores and home improvement centers have rapidly expanded and are posing a threat to existing sales channels.


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