Market Overview

BC and Canada have a long-standing presence in the Japanese market and are widely recognized as leading players in supplying wood products to Japan’s residential construction sector.

While Japan’s aging population has led to a decline in single-family housing starts, government policies encouraging wood use in hybrid, multi-family/multi-storey, and non-residential construction have opened doors for BC wood products within these segments.

Together, FII and its partners are working to sustain BC’s market share in Japan by protecting the strong Canadian brand and expanding wood use beyond traditional segments.

Photo: Canada Japan Wood Conference at Tokyo International Forum | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Key Stats


wood housing starts on average each year


largest global market for BC’s value-added sector


largest market for BC lumber

Why Japan?

  • Large, high-value market for BC forest products
  • Strong Canadian brand for more than 40 years
  • Growing opportunities in the non-residential sector
  • Sophisticated market with demand for coastal species
  • Major market for wood pellets
Photo: Donguri-Anne Public Library, Japan | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Market Priorities

  • Encourage wood use through engaging policymaking around codes and standards
  • Increase market share of single and multi-family residential construction
  • Develop the non-residential construction segment
  • Target niche markets for the value-added sector, particularly in resort, agriculture and reform sectors
  • Continue to build upon Canada’s growing market-share within the wood pellets sector
Photo: Canadian delegation to Japan, Seiwa Corporation 2×4 apartment site visit | Credit: Canada Wood Japan

Strategic Approach

Since 2003, the Canada Wood Group has been leading market development programming with support from FII and the federal government. Efforts are focused on overcoming barriers to wood use, increasing capacity in wood construction and design, and promoting the use of wood building systems in targeted sectors. Support for BC’s value-added sector is encouraged through in-market promotions and continued work on codes and standards to achieve acceptance of new building solutions.

Photo: Ferichetamamura International Elementary School, Gunma prefecture | Credit: Gunma Felice Academy.

Featured Projects

10th Biomass Pellets Trade & Power Conference, Tokyo | Photo: Center for Management Technology/WPAC.

Green credentials of BC wood pellets promoted in Japan

10th Biomass Pellets Trade & Power Conference, Tokyo | Photo: Center for Management Technology/WPAC.

Japan is the fastest-growing major market for wood pellets in the world and offers solid growth potential for BC suppliers. Canadian wood pellet exports to Japan grew almost ten-fold from 2014 (62,000 tonnes) to 2019 (590,000 tonnes) and now hold a 37 percent share of pellet imports. Wood pellet sales to Japan is a significant and important success story for BC as 95 percent of Canadian pellet shipments to Japan originate in BC.

To further bolster the reputation of BC pellet suppliers in Japan, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada sponsored a Biomass conference in Tokyo, including a Canadian Wood Pellet Day and a series of speaking events. BC Chief Forester, Diane Nicholls, attended and spoke to BC’s sustainable forest practices and the green credentials of BC wood pellets. More than 300 industry and government officials attended the Canadian-sponsored events.

Erimo Pig Farm, Hokkaido prefecture | Photo: Hokkaido Chuo Bokujyo

Japan Wood Truss Council partnership

Erimo Pig Farm, Hokkaido prefecture | Photo: Hokkaido Chuo Bokujyo

Recent restructuring in the Japanese agri-business sector has led to a boom in BC wood products used in agricultural buildings from Okinawa to Hokkaido. Partnering with the Japan Wood Truss Council, Canada Wood Japan has been promoting the benefits of wood trusses over competing steel systems in agricultural buildings. The results have been impressive, with the council reporting an increase in truss use by more than 54 percent in the past year.

The Erimo Farm project, as an example, includes nine new barns to expand pork production in Hokkaido. The barns cover 18,120 m2 and use almost 1,000 m3 of S-P-F dimensional lumber for roof trusses and wall assemblies.

In total, 2019/20 saw nine new non-residential construction projects incorporate Canadian wood in their design due to Canada Wood promotion efforts and technical support.

NLT Fire Testing, Ibaraki prefecture | Photo: Canada Wood Japan.

Tested under fire: NLT achieves milestone

NLT Fire Testing, Ibaraki prefecture | Photo: Canada Wood Japan.

Increasing market access for different uses of wood is an ongoing part of market development in Japan through the Canada Wood Market Access Initiative. With Japan’s growing interest in mass timber construction, Canada Wood has focused in recent years on gaining approvals for the use of nail-laminated timber (NLT) building systems.

Fire testing is an important step in this process. Partnering with the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association, Canada Wood organized 30-minute and 60-minute fire testing of NLT for roofing and flooring panels, both of which were successful. Final approval has been confirmed and will build on favourable revisions to building codes and standards regarding the use of NLT.

The Market Access Initiative reported the successful elimination of eight regulatory barriers to the use of wood in Japan during the year.

Makado Nursery School Project, Tochigi prefecture | Photo: Canada Wood Japan.

Nursery school project is a first for Midply technology

Makado Nursery School Project, Tochigi prefecture | Photo: Canada Wood Japan.

Canada Wood Japan’s “Product Mix” initiative is focused on broadening the use of engineered wood products and systems in Japan’s construction sector, including the BC-developed Midply wall system. The first use of infill Midply wall systems using hem-fir and oriented strand board (OSB) is now underway at a nursery school project near Tokyo. The Makado Kagamimochi Nursery School is a one-storey, post-and-beam structure designed with wide openings between the beams. Canada Wood provided technical assistance for the project architect in securing building permit approval for using hem-fir and OSB wall units and facilitated the sourcing of coastal BC hemlock for the project. Promoting Midply is a major undertaking of Canada Wood in Japan, as Midply wall systems offer higher seismic performance.

Midply technology is helping to position BC forest products for growth in large non-residential construction projects.