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

The Wood Materials and Trading Division of Itochu Kenzai Corporation held its annual autumn event called “Gathering of Special Customers of the Wood Materials and Trading Division” on October 27 at TKP Garden City Shinagawa in Tokyo. In his greetings speech at the start of the event, Toshiaki Shibata, president and CEO, said, “With the effects of new housing construction starts shifting to a bullish tone, sales at our company in the first half of the term went up 13% compared to the same term last year. Because orders received for precut lumber are going well, this good condition will probably continue for a while in the near future,” expressing his outlook for bullish business results. On the other hand looking at the mid to long term, he said that the drop-off on the demand side will definitely come, and he explained that they will put all their effort into working on “finding products in Japan and abroad that meet the needs of our customers” and “increasing our handling of certified wood material and legal wood material.” Yasuo Toyoda, the general manager of the division, spoke about the business policy of the division for next year moving ahead with the keywords of “environmentally conscious, proposal-type business sales, own suppliers, and non-housing construction.” With Canadian hemlock KD lumber, the division will work to move ahead aggressively with the handling of domestic lumber, which has tripled from 2014 to 2016. The division will also work to achieve a target of 100% in the amount of legal wood material handled by 2018 and work with the aim of becoming a company that is indispensable for purchasing legal wood material. It will also work to be actively involved in the change to wood material and wood construction in non-housing construction.

At a press conference on November 7, KEYTEC Co., Ltd. announced that it has acquired the chain of custody (CoC) certification of the Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council (SGEC) as of September 30.Currently, KEYTEC uses 2,500 m³ of unprocessed wood and 500 m³ of veneer as material for LVL. The unprocessed wood is 40% logs from Russia and 60% domestic logs, and certified material consisting mainly of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accounts for 70% of this wood material. Koichi Nakanishi, The representative director and president of KEYTEC, explained, “Up to now, the use of certified material has centered on FSC, but this time, we decided to use SGEC and its mutually recognized system of Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) and to move ahead with the use of certified products with these 3 “standing” organizations.” In the near future, the company will target the use of certified material for all of its products. Concerning the production of lauan plywood, in which the company uses legal lumber, Nakanishi said, “In the near future, we will shift production from our own factories to factories with business alliance.” Specifically, factories of 4 or 5 companies that have acquired the FSC certification in Indonesia will be selected, and plywood will be produced using FSC certified unprocessed wood. Second stage processing is scheduled to be conducted at domestic factories.

On November 8, Sumitomo Forestry Co., Ltd. held a briefing session at its conference room to announce its “Financial Results for the Second Quarter of Fiscal Year Ending March 2017”. In its financial results for the second quarter, the timber and building materials business saw an improvement in revenue with an increase in profitability of import products. In the housing business, completed housing unit prices were up due to an expansion in sales of Big-Frame Construction, and net sales increased 3.9% compared to the previous term. In the renovation business, a rush-in-demand for large-scale renovations did not materialize due to a delay in the increase in the consumption tax rate, and with a lack of orders received in the background, the number of completed construction of houses slightly decreased compared to the previous term. The segment that led the good financial results was the overseas business expanding with net sales of 108.4 billion yen and recurring income of 7.0 billion yen, and the overseas housing business, which is being developed with regional partners in America and Australia, had a steady increase in the number of houses, and the MDF business of Nelson Pine Industries Ltd. shifted to a good condition with a favorable backwind coming from the foreign exchange rate. Concerning the overseas business, Akira Ichikawa, the president and representative director of the company, said, “The population in both America and Australia is increasing, so a bullish condition for construction starts is seen as continuing for the time being. We are planning to strengthen businesses, in which developing fields, positioning, and merger and acquisitions have come into view in the near future.”


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