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  5. Proposal for a Proactive Reform Plan for Japanese Forest Sector’s Next Ten Years

2009 Vol.4
Proposal for a Proactive Reform Plan for Japanese Forest Sector’s Next Ten Years

2009/10/01

The forestry and forest industries are recognized as important industries contributing to the foundation of regional sustainable development. In Japan, they are expected to have untapped growth potential as the country’s industrial structures are poised to change significantly.
During the 1990s and the first eight years of the new century, there was high demand for lumber worldwide. However, the global economic downturn that started at the end of 2008 has struck the forestry and forest industries internationally, and North America and Europe are experiencing major production cutbacks. The forestry and forest industries in Japan are also facing severe economic circumstances as of September 2009.
Instead of labeling such adverse conditions merely as a”once-in-a-hundred-years event”, we need to discuss the situation constructively. Reexamining a macroscopic framework for the next ten years, we expect that the number of new housing construction starts will fall due to population decline (which has already begun) and abundant housing stock. At the same time, however, there are opportunities arising from attempts to counter global warming, such as the promoted use of wood biomass energy and emerging assessments that value the ability of construction lumber to capture and store carbon.
We need to take action based on proactive discussions which analyze expected changes in advance and enable preparations for the coming era. Regaining market share from foreign competitors and expanding the use of lumber as an interior material and for largescale wooden constructions, as well as using it as a source of wood biomass energy and a raw material for paper and pulp, are considered promising for Japan. If the competitiveness of the domestic forest sector is successfully strengthened, the sector’s agenda can include exporting to countries like China and Korea in the future.
Achieving these goals requires immediate policy initiatives for training and assisting those who manage forests and promoting forward-looking research and development.

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