Lumber self-sufficiency rate hits 48-year high

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
People inspect a wooden biomass power generation facility in Nambu, Yamanashi Prefecture, on May 22.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s self-sufficiency rate for lumber in 2020 rose 4.0 percentage points from the previous year to 41.8%, topping 40% for the first time in 48 years, the Japanese government said Tuesday.

The growth reflected a rise in supplies of domestically produced lumber in recent years and a fall in housing starts due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the government said in its fiscal 2021 report on forest and forestry in Japan, which was adopted at a cabinet meeting.

Overall demand for lumber in 2020 totaled 74.44 million cubic meters, while domestic lumber supplies came to 31.15 million cubic meters.

The country’s self-sufficiency rate for lumber fell to 18.8% in 2002 due to domestic lumber supply shortages and a rise in lumber imports.

In recent years, supplies of domestic lumber have been on the rise, as planted forests are coming into use, and demand for wood chips is growing for use in biomass power generation.

Against this background, Japan’s lumber self-sufficiency rate rose for 10 straight years from 2011.

The report also said that an expansion in lumber demand and the strengthening of the country’s timber industry are key for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to effectively zero, with forests playing an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide.

The report noted that the government plans to promote the use of lumber in taller buildings and the development of factories to process raw woods with large diameters.