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

The Japan Federation of Housing Organizations recently held its board of directors meeting and general meeting for fiscal 2016 in Tokyo and decided its business plan for fiscal 2016 including plans for the revitalization of the distribution market of existing homes. At a press conference held after the meetings, Isami Wada, chairman of the federation, “A severe condition arose in construction starts of owner-occupied homes after the consumption tax rate became 8% in April 2014, and finally, it recently entered into a recovery basis. Related to the increase in inheritance tax, the number of construction starts of rental homes is expanding and supporting housing overall. Even if new construction starts do not increase, there is a housing stock of 60 million units in Japan. It is important to promote renovation such as a change to “zero energy” in existing homes and to form a housing stock of high quality. Furthermore, construction of a distribution system for this kind of housing is needed.” He also forecasted, “Introduction of the 10% consumption tax rate is coming up, but a rush-in-demand will most likely hardly be seen. However, the current “minus interest rate” policy is a plus for the housing and real estate industry.” The following three items were seen as key points in the business plan for fiscal 2016 by the federation: 1) development of a high quality living environment and supply of housing, 2) revitalization of the distribution market of existing homes, and 3) construction of a tax and financial system to improve home living and implement a strong economy.

Within the budget for fiscal 2016, which was approved on March 29, the total amount related to forestry was 293.3 billion yen (1% increase compared to the initial budget for fiscal 2015). The amount for public works spending was 190.0 billion yen (1% decrease), and within this amount, 180.0 billion yen (1% decrease) was for general public works spending, and 10.0 billion yen (same amount as the initial budget for fiscal 2015) was for disaster recovery spending. The amount for non-public works was 103.3 billion yen (4.9% increase). The budget allotted 120.3 billion yen for forest management projects (public works) promoting forest thinnings, road network maintenance, and reforestation after final logging. Afforestation projects (public works) were allotted 59.7 billion yen. “Subsidies for Making a Foundation for the next Generation Forestry” was allotted 6.1 billion yen, and comprehensive support will be given to forest thinnings, road network maintenance, lumber processing and distribution facilities that produce CLT, and wood biomass-related facilities in order to implement an expansion in the production, supply, and use of lumber. “Comprehensive Projects to Create New lumber Demand” was allotted 1.2 billion yen. Within this allotment for the “Development and Spread of New Projects and Technology for the Change to Wood in Cities”, support will be given to efforts that lead to the development of a manual for the spread in CLT use, development of wooden fire resistant components, and the change to wood construction of low-rise, non-housing buildings.

On March 31 and April 1, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism issued and put into effect a notice based on the Building Standards Law concerning the general design method of buildings that use Cross Laminated Timber (CLT). By carrying out the structural calculations based on the notice, construction using CLT is possible by architectural confirmation without being subject to individual ministry certification. Also, with the specifications based on the notice, CLT, LVL, and laminated lumber can be used without a fire-proof coating for buildings of three stories or less that can be constructed as a semi-fire resistant structure. Up until now in order to use CLT for the structural framework components, structural calculations were carried out for every building, and receiving a ministry certification was necessary, but because the strength of CLT material and the effects on and movement of buildings using CLT during earthquakes was confirmed with the use of full-scale seismic simulation platforms, ministry certification is no longer necessary. Also previously in order to use CLT, LVL, and laminated lumber without a fire-proof coating for the walls, flooring, and ceilings of buildings that had to be fire resistant structures, the ministry certification was necessary after carrying out tests for fire resistance on every framework component. However, because the way the framework component burns during a fire was recently confirmed, these steps were taken.


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