Japan: Timber industry in crisis

04 May 2011

Japan: Timber industry in crisis

Many domestic wood processing mills in coastal areas in eastern Japan suffered extensive damage caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It is estimated that a capacity of 60,000 cu.m of plywood per month has been lost.
Damaged infrastructure and a shortage of fuel brought all businesses in the region to a halt. As a result, the supply of plywood in the major markets of Tokyo and Osaka was badly affected. Other unaffected sawnwood and plywood mills have plans to increase production to supply wood materials for restoration work, but they are also suffering from periodic electricity blackouts.
Ports in Hachinohe, Sendai, Sohma, Onahama and Hitachinaka are closed and shipments being are diverted to Tokyo and Kawasaki. Tokyo Lumber Terminal has secured 49,000 square metres of land as an emergency storage area reports the Japan Lumber Report (JLR).
The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport disclosed that some 4,702 buildings were totally destroyed and 2,496 units half destroyed.
In addition, 1,150 units are unsafe with a high risk of collapse.
Tropical plywood processing after quake The earthquake and tsunami caused devastating damage to Ofunato Plywood mill which processed tropical hardwood logs from Southeast Asia. Other tropical plywood manufacturers experienced only little damage such as collapsed log and plywood piles. Plywood manufacturers are now trying to boost production which may push log prices up, reportsthe JLR.