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

On February 12, the Forestry Agency held the “2nd Debriefing Session on International Trends in the Forestry Sector” at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The debriefing session was held as a continuation from the 1st debriefing session, which was well-received when held on October 18 of last year, and in order to have the information available to many people, the data and documents that were used at the meeting were released to the public on the agency’s website: http://www.rinya.maff.go.jp/j/kaigai/index.html (in Japanese). Four issues were reported on that day including: 1) Climate change and Forests - Movements in COP19 and IPCC, 2) Current Situation of the Forest Products Trade in Japan, 3) Support for UNFF Process according to FAO, and 4) JICA Technological Cooperation Project - Kyrgyzstan Joint Forest Management Capabilities Improvement Project. Japan relies about 70% of its lumber demand on imports, and the value of imports amounts to about 1 trillion yen. The tariff rates of the major forest products include 4.8% for SPF lumber products, 8.5% to 10% for tropical lumber plywood, and 3.9% for laminated lumber for structural use, and excluding Paulownia, logs, Douglas fir lumber products, and hemlock lumber products are tax-exempt. In addition, the value of Japanese lumber exports was 12.3 billion yen in 2013 rising 32% compared to the previous year. The lumber is being exported to the following countries: China, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan all accounting for about 70%, and among the items, logs accounted for about 30%.

The Japan DIY Industry Association recently announced the “Summary of Sales at Home Improvement Centers in 2013 (January to December), which surveyed 40 corporate members involved in retailing. According to the summary, net sales for all the stores was 2.6907 trillion yen, and compared to the previous fiscal year, net sales was 100.9% based on all stores and 97.9% based on existing stores. The total number of stores was 3,460 that increased throughout the year. The number of customers was 1.0810 billion people (37 companies surveyed), and with the effects of the low temperatures of winter and the heat wave in summer, the number remained level with the previous year. Comparing the percentage of net sales based on the composition of product categories, “equipment and material for do-it-yourself” had the largest percentage with 24.1%, and “gardening and exterior” was the 2nd largest with 20.3%, and within “equipment and material for do-it-yourself” and “service business,” effects were seen from orders received for remodeling/renovation and demand related to the rise in consumption tax rate and to natural disasters.

Satsuma Fine Wood Co., Ltd. (Soo City, Kagoshima Prefecture), a subsidiary of Imarimokuzai (Imari City, Saga Prefecture) established Kagoshima JAS Lumber Products Distribution Processing Center (tentative name) in Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, and a signing ceremony agreeing on the location recently took place at Kirishima City Hall. The distribution processing center is planning to process 40,000 m³ (100,000 m³ converted to cedar logs) annually of mainly 2 x 4 structural lumber to be sold to Daito Trust Construction Co., Ltd., the largest builder of housing constructed with the 2 x 4 construction method. Working in cooperation, local lumbermills will supply the cedar products to be used as raw material. The amount of investment is 2.2 billion yen (including cost of land), and construction on the 44,338 m² site located in Kirishima City will begin in April, and operations at the factory (area of the building: 9,075 m²) is scheduled to begin next year in April. 80% of the processed products will be 2 x 4 structural lumber for Daito Trust Construction, and 20% will be sold to local precut factories as cedar structural lumber. Sales are expected to be 1.2 billion yen for the first fiscal year and 1.5 billion yen annually when in full operations. The number of newly employed workers is scheduled to be 19 people.

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