The outlook of the Japanese construction sectors is brighter than it has been for years. Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party has pledged to stimulate the domestic economy through numerous public works projects, particularly in the Tohoku region, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. However, access for foreign construction companies has never been particularly easy, and this remains a difficult market for foreigners to penetrate. Find out more about Japan’s construction sector below.
Japanese houses are mostly new and largely designed to only last for roughly 30 years. Culturally, the land is seen as more important than the house on it. Energy consumption differs greatly from that in Europe and is discussed, as do house buying patterns – many Japanese people buy pre-constructed houses to a particular design. A Japan-specific building-rating system to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings is called CASBEE, and in some regions, there are subsidies based on the CASBEE scheme.
Stones & Tiles
Demand for building stone in Japan is influenced by peaks and troughs in the construction industry. Stricter building standards have reduced the number of new builds and, as a result, imports of building stone are down. This problem was compounded by the global financial crisis beginning in 2008. Imports of building stone are still low.
Granite accounts for 90% of imported stone, in terms of both volume and value. Most of this building stone is imported as a worked product and not as raw stone. This is also the case for marble. The shift to importing processed products stems from exporters preferring to supply value-added products over raw stone. Similarly, Japanese importers prefer to cut domestic transport and processing costs. The volume of imports of worked products is likely to continue to increase. Following the trend of building stone, tile imports have also fallen in recent years. They have, however, recovered better than building stone since 2010.
Both small and large companies exist in Japan and they have different needs (e.g. raw or processed materials) and different kinds of buyers. Furthermore, the Japanese construction industry has very high expectations in terms of size accuracy, stone quality and processing accuracy.
Entering the Japanese market presents a number of difficulties, such as the need for strong and continuous contact, a large variety of products and secondary processes to adapt products to the Japanese market.
Reference: EU BUSINESS IN JAPAN