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

The Japan Laminated Wood Products Association held its 44th general meeting on May 20 at Hotel Mielparque Tokyo. In his greetings speech, Tomisaku Kaimoto, the chairman of the association, asserted that among the expected expansion in various uses of laminated lumber, more effort and work will be put into “securing and improving the quality of laminated lumber,” which has up to now been the center of the association’s activities. The association is currently comprised of 92 companies (5 supporting member companies) consisting mainly of laminated lumber manufacturers. In this fiscal year, along with improving the quality of laminated lumber products, the association will work to promote the use of wood for facilities related to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and to create new uses of laminated lumber for fixtures such as a collaboration project with Musashino Art University. In addition, for the development of semi-fire resistant structural lumber that uses small to mid-diameter laminated lumber, the plan is to gain ministry certifications for two specifications. For the promotion of thick panels of domestically produced laminated lumber, use as surface material, which is steadily spreading, will be expanded further.

Nippon Paper Industries Co., Ltd. (Tokyo) compiled and announced its 5th Medium-Term Business Plan (Fiscal 2015-2017) covering three years from this year. Based on achieving its targets of revitalization after the earthquake disaster and improving its financial position, which were raised in its 4th Medium-Term Business Plan, the new plan will invest capital actively into the expansion and creation of businesses in growth areas such as the “general biomass business that opens up both the future and wood use”, and it will aim for 50.0 billion yen in operating income for fiscal 2017 (23.7 billion yen in fiscal 2014). The plan continues with the main themes of “enhancing the competitiveness of the existing businesses” and “changing the business structure.” By using earnings from the paper and paperboard businesses in Japan and overseas, the company will effectively allocate its management resources such as people, goods, money, and information to fields that are seen as growth areas in the future including energy, chemical, healthcare, and packaging businesses. Concerning lumber, the company will move ahead with establishing the practical use of cellulose nanofiber (CNF), which is a micro-refined fibrous material specially processed from pulp fibers. A wood biomass power plant at the Yatsushiro Factory and a coal and wood burning power plant at the Ishinomaki Factory are scheduled to be constructed, and net sales from the energy business will be expanded from the current 15.0 billion yen to 50.0 billion yen in the future.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism compiled “Notice Concerning the Rational Design of Wood Constructed Government Office Buildings” and released it to the public on May 29. In order to move ahead with the further utilization of wood, holding down the costs of developing wood constructed buildings is believed to be necessary, but unless it is understood in advance that being able to procure lumber differs depending on the region of the construction, problems stemming from prolonged construction and increased costs in construction will remain. For this reason in fiscal 2012 and 2013, an investigative committee with specialists conducted surveys and investigations, attained information specific to lumber, and compiled the current notice so that rational design can be promoted. For the development of government buildings, the notice will be used in conjunction with criteria such as the “Wooden Planning and Design Standards” during the planning and design stages. The chapters of the notice cover: 1) lumber procurement, 2) lumber use in major structural components, and 3) use of building materials for housing, and important points for each were mentioned. As reference material, explanations and information were compiled regarding: 1) items from previous surveys concerning construction structural design, 2) fundamental knowledge related to lumber, and 3) results of various surveys and case studies.


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