Keynote address by Japanese Ambassador to New Zealand
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.