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Japan could supply timber to China and Korea

Japan has two huge potential areas rich in natural resources, which have remained untapped one of them is timber. In Japan forests cover 68 percent of the land. Source: The Japan Times online

While its land area is small, 68.2 percent of it is covered by forests – the fourth highest percentage in the world after Bhutan, Finland and Laos, and far ahead of the US (33.1 percent), Britain (31.9 percent), France (28.6 percent) and China (22 percent).

So Japan has potential to become a country with abundant natural resources. But bringing them to reality would require drastic changes in the mind-set of both lawmakers and bureaucrats.

The country’s forests have potential to offer employment and export opportunities.

China and South Korea’s demand for high-quality lumber is rising fast. China’s demand cannot be fully met by its domestic forest resources.

Japanese forests have a wide variety of high quality trees so it could become a lumber-exporting country like Canada, Russia and Indonesia.

But aging forestry workers and stagnant domestic prices have prevented Japan’s forestry industry from growing. If Japan accepted foreign workers for logging, improved forest roads and developed heavy machinery suited for logging and transportation in Japanese forests, the potential for exporting lumber to China and South Korea at competitive prices would be excellent.

What is needed most is to dispel the perception that Japan is a resource poor country. This misconception has prevented investment in the exploitation of these resources and blocked efforts to increase cost competitiveness.

Last year, China’s State Forestry Administration proposed sending thousands of forestry workers to Japan to help promote Japanese lumber exports to China and to create job opportunities for China’s unemployed. Japan rejected the proposal.