Key­note ad­dress by Ja­panese Am­bas­sador to New Zealand

Australasian Timber - - MERGER -

THE RE­LA­TION­SHIP be­tween New Zealand’s and Ja­pan’s wood in­dus­tries goes back over 50 year and I would like to ex­press my sin­cere re­spect and grat­i­tude to those who planted that seed and nur­tured it into the very strong and sta­ble re­la­tion­ship we have today.

For the past half cen­tury, New Zealand and Ja­pan have been great part­ners in the wood in­dus­try. In 1965, New Zealand ex­ported 400,000 (four hun­dred thou­sand) cu­bic me­tres of logs and sawn tim­ber to Ja­pan. Today over 10% of Ja­pan’s im­ported logs come from New Zealand and New Zealand and Ja­pan have a long-stand­ing, sta­ble and am­i­ca­ble re­la­tion­ship, which is mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial for both coun­tries.

Re­cently, Oji Hold­ings Cor­po­ra­tion and the In­no­va­tion Net­work Cor­po­ra­tion of Ja­pan made a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment of more than 1bil­lion dol­lars to ac­quire the Carter Holt Har­vey’s pulp, paper and pack­ag­ing busi­ness in New Zealand.

Oji has been an ac­tive mem­ber of the wood in­dus­try in New Zealand since 1971and an in­vest­ment of such size with­out fail demon­strates that New Zealand and Ja­pan have es­tab­lished and deep­ened such a strong re­la­tion­ship of mu­tual trust over many gen­er­a­tions.

Wood prod­ucts are re­ceiv­ing more and more at­ten­tion in Ja­pan and an ex­am­ple of this is the Wood First Act passed in Oc­to­ber 2010 which will in­crease the use of wood for pub­lic build­ings, many of which are cur­rently non-wooden build­ings.

The govern­ment will also pro­mote the use of wood build­ings among lo­cal govern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor, aim­ing to have a rip­ple ef­fect on hous­ing and other types of build­ings in or­der to in­crease the gen­eral de­mand for wood.

Al­though the Wood First leg­is­la­tion does not make wood build­ings com­pul­sory, wood is in­creas­ingly be­ing uti­lized for govern­ment build­ings and ware­houses and its uses are grow­ing wider with some pre­vi­ously un­heard of ex­am­ples such as large wooden cow barns and wooden guardrails.

Wood is also used for school build­ings and since 1985 many schools and their in­te­ri­ors have been built with wood. In 2012, 20% of all the new pub­lic school build­ings were made of wood, and 69% of non-wooden pub­lic schools en­hanced their in­te­ri­ors with wood.

An­other way to pro­mote wood is the Wood Use Points Pro­gram which started in April last year. This pro­gram en­cour­ages the use of wood in hous­ing and in­te­rior and ex­te­rior work by giv­ing out points to those who use wood or buy wooden prod­ucts.

Con­sumers can use those points for lo­cal agri­cul­tural prod­ucts or gift vouch­ers, and the points can also be do­nated to help the con­ser­va­tion of forests. As some of you may know, New Zealand wood was not ini­tially el­i­gi­ble in this scheme; how­ever, from July this year, Ra­di­ata pine from New Zealand be­came el­i­gi­ble.

These ini­tia­tives are based on the phi­los­o­phy that the con­ser­va­tion of forests not only en­sures the pro­duc­tion of wood and em­ploy­ment but also pro­tects wa­ter sources and bio­di­ver­sity as well as coun­ter­ing cli­mate change.

It is also worth not­ing that ap­prox­i­mately 13,000 of the temporary houses built af­ter the Great East Ja­pan Earth­quake in 2011 were wooden houses and a sur­vey of those who live in these houses highly ap­pre­ci­ate the na­ture of wooden houses, say­ing that they are fond of the smell, feel and warmth of wood and that wooden houses have low dew con­den­sa­tion.

Ad­di­tion­ally in the dis­as­ter-af­fected ar­eas, wood is be­ing ex­ten­sively used in houses and build­ings as part of the new ur­ban plan­ning pro­cesses.

His­tor­i­cally, Ja­pan is a coun­try full of wooden ar­chi­tec­ture. Built in the 7th­cen­tury, Ho­ryuji (or the Tem­ple of the Flour­ish­ing Law) is widely ac­knowl­edged to be one of the old­est wooden build­ings in the world and there are many other old wooden build­ings in Ja­pan in­clud­ing Kinkakuji (the Tem­ple of the golden Pav­il­ion) in Ky­oto.

Such her­itage build­ings need to be re­paired and re­built ev­ery 100 years; how­ever re­cently it has be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to ob­tain tim­ber of the ap­pro­pri­ate width and length re­quired for re­pair­ing these her­itage build­ings and to help with this Ja­pan has be­gun grow­ing trees over 200 to 400 years in our na­tional forests.

De­sign­ing and ex­e­cut­ing such long-term plans is one of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the wood in­dus­try.

While it is im­por­tant to cher­ish old tra­di­tions, the wood in­dus­try in Ja­pan is also look­ing at em­brac­ing the lat­est tech­nolo­gies such as Cross Lam­i­nated Tim­ber (CLT).

While it will take a bit more time for CLT to be ap­proved un­der Ja­pan’s build­ing Stan­dard Law, a pi­lot con­struc­tion de­sign us­ing CLT was com­pleted in March this year and in its new Growth Strat­egy an­nounced in June this year the Ja­panese Govern­ment ar­tic­u­lated that de­sign meth­ods us­ing CLT will be de­vel­oped by 2016.

I think we can ex­pect to see many build­ings con­structed us­ing CLT in Ja­pan in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

It is also worth men­tion­ing that there is cur­rently a dis­cus­sion around us­ing wooden con­struc­tion for the sum­mer Olympics and Par­a­lympics to be held in Tokyo in 2020 and the rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party, has dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of build­ing an Olympic sta­dium us­ing wood, so fu­ture de­vel­op­ments could be very in­ter­est­ing.

An­other in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy be­ing de­vel­oped in Ja­pan is called cel­lu­lose nanofi­bre ma­te­ri­als, which was also men­tioned in the Govern­ment’s New Growth Strat­egy.

Many of the tech­nolo­gies of nanocel­lu­lose are still be­ing de­vel­oped; how­ever, many re­search in­sti­tutes and paper man­u­fac­tur­ing companies as well as elec­tron­ics, au­to­mo­bile and cos­metic companies are work­ing to ad­vance re­search and de­vel­op­ment of these ma­te­ri­als, and we can hope­fully start to see some prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tions in 5 to 10 years time.

Ja­panese Am­bas­sador to New Zealand Ya­suaki No­gawa.

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