Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson and delegates on the 2013 Forestry Asia Trade Mission had an action-packed first day in Japan.
Mission delegates toured the Unsourire Nursing Home, a 4,700-square-metre wood building under construction near Tokyo. When completed next year, the nursing home will be the third-largest platform frame building of its kind in Japan. The project is expected to use about 940 cubic metres of dimensional lumber, equivalent to the amount used in 45 single-family homes.
There are an estimated 420,000 seniors in Japan on waiting lists for elderly care facilities. To house these seniors in wood-frame construction would require an additional 7,700 elderly care homes. Translated into lumber demand, construction would require 2.9 million cubic metres of lumber. In 2012, B.C. lumber exports to Japan were just under 2.0 million cubic metres.
In October 2010, following B.C.'s lead, Japan implemented its own Wood First law, requiring the use of wood in public buildings. At the time of introduction, wood was only used in about 7.5 per cent of public structures, but has since increased to 36 per cent.
On the first full day of the mission, delegates also toured the Wing Co. 2 x 4 panel plant, which cuts dimensional lumber from B.C. into panels for Japanese builders and housing companies.
Thomson also had the opportunity to address the annual general meeting of the Japanese 2 x 4 JAS Lumber Council. Environmental sustainability and security of supply are two top issues of concern for Japanese importers. Thomson was able to reassure the Japanese Lumber Council that despite the mountain-pine-beetle infestation, B.C. has more than enough timber to meet Japan's future needs. The Japanese Lumber Council, an industry-based association, represents panel and truss fabricators, housing companies, suppliers and distributors in the residential and non-residential construction sector.
Trade missions are a critical part of British Columbia's strategy to diversify its international trading partners and secure new investment, propelling economic activity and job creation throughout the province. In June 2013, Premier Christy Clark committed Thomson to co-sponsoring annual trade missions to Asia with the forest industry.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations -
"We are committed to supporting our key customers in Japan through a stable supply of high quality wood products harvested using sustainable environmental practices."
- Japan and China are the largest markets for B.C. softwood lumber products after the U.S.
- Japan is the world's third-largest economy, after the U.S. and China.
- As of August 2013, softwood exports to Japan totalled $545 million, a 36-per-cent increase over the same period in 2012.
For an artist's rendering of the Unsourire Nursing Home and other photos from the 2013 Forestry Asia Trade Mission, visit: http://ow.ly/pCHMa
BC Jobs Plan: www.bcjobsplan.ca
Building our Natural Advantage: Forest Sector Strategy for British Columbia: www.for.gov.bc.ca/mof/forestsectorstrategy/
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations