MAFF Seeks More Internationalized JAS Standards

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) is planning on submitting a JAS law amendment bill to the regular National Diet session currently taking place.  The JAS law, stipulating how the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) should be operated, has been facing several challenges.  Among those are decreasing JAS-Certified Business Entities, slow growth of JAS product exports or less credibility of JAS-graded commodities than expected.  MAFF hopes that the solution for these challenges would be to make the JAS standards more internationally recognized.  This internationalization includes expanding the scope of the standards such as standardizing manufacture methods, operational methodologies or measurement/analytical methods as opposed to the conventional scopes limited to material standards.  It is hoped that this law amendment may result in realizing our long-time wish; establishment of pressure treatment JAS standard for sawn lumber.  If pressure treating methods can be standardized in the JAS system, it may become possible to JAS-certify pressure treated Canadian lumber graded to NLGA rule or the JPS-1 Canada Tsuga grading rule.

CLT JAS Standard Revision Work Commences

Almost 3 years have passed since the first Japanese CLT standard JAS 3079 was established in December 2013.  Most JAS standards are usually revised every 5 years, however MAFF* started its revision work in January of this year.  COFI sits as one of the 16 revision committee members.  Our goal includes to let them revise the standard so that Canadian lumber with species groups can be used as the planks in the JAS-certified CLT.  We also elaborate a plan to make the standard accept North American recipe of the polyurethane adhesive (also see this blog in October, 2015).  The revision work is scheduled to be completed by March 2019.

*Note: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Doggy’s Island Resort & Villa Expanding

Photo of Doggy’s Island Resort & Villa Expanding

Doggy’s Island Resort & Villa is rapidly expanding. A new concept resort hotel recently built in Japan, on the outskirts of Eastern Tokyo that caters to canine clients and their owners is doing extremely well. The property currently has 79 guest rooms built using the 2×4 construction method, but that isn’t enough to keep up with demand, and the owner is planning to expand the number of place to stay at the resort by 62 guest rooms next year. As such, a quasi-fireproof 2-storey building with a total floor area of 970m² is currently under construction which is scheduled to be completed in February. In addition to this, as large 3-storey 2×4 fireproof building with a total floor area of 3,656m² has been approved for construction on the property that will also add another 42 rooms to the resort when this building is completed later next year. The design firm for this resort is Architectural Office L’Esprit Nouveau, the general contractor is Akita Kensetsu Kougyou, and the owner is Unimat Group. It looks like platform frame construction is a winning combination not only for humans, but his’ best friend too.

Yamamura Receives Well Deserved Recognition

Group Photo (L to R) of COFI’s Shawn Lawlor, Yamamura’s Mr. Tatsukami & Mr. Nakamura and BC’s Minister Thomson

Yamamura Co., Ltd., receives “Certificate of Appreciation & Recognition” for its “Leadership in Innovation and Support in the Commercial Development of Large Scale Two by Four Non-Residential Construction in Japan. Representing the company, Mr. Shinobu Nakamura, President and Mr. Yoshiharu Tatsukami, Tokyo Branch Office Manager were on hand at a dinner hosted in their honour at the Westin Hotel in Sendai on November 26, 2017, by a delegation of 21 persons representing our industry lead by British Columbia’s Honourable Stephen Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. At the dinner, BC’s Minister Thomson personally thanked Yamamura’s President Mr. Nakamura and presented a wooden plaque signed by the Minster, Mr. John Kozij, Director General, Canadian Forest Service / NRCan and Ms. Susan Yurkovich, President & CEO, Council of Forest Industries. Yamamura is a medium sized general contractor based in Yamagata prefecture that also builds residential homes, but also specializes in building medium and large wooden structures in Japan. In 2004, the company was involved in constructing the first fireproof elderly care facility built in Aichi prefecture. It has since built its experience, knowledge and has continued to hone its expertise over the years to become one of the leading general contractors for these types of structures in Japan.

24 Million Visitors to Japan in 2016

One of the most interesting Mount Fuji facts is that this volcanic mountain is actually three separate volcanoes, one on top of the other. The bottom layer is the Komitake volcano, then the Kofuji volcano, then Fuji, which is the youngest of the three.

In January 2017, the Japanese government reported a record number of visitors to Japan from overseas, with just over 24 million tourists spending about 3.75 trillion yen in the country in 2016. These are both all-time highs for the Land of the Rising Sun and shows that the government proactive police to encourage visitors from overseas to spend time and money in this country is definitely paying dividends. The only real down side to the large inflow of overseas tourists to Japan, is the fact that this has clearly started to strain the capacity of this country to host more and more travelers from abroad, as its transport and accommodations infrastructure is being pushed to its limits. For example, according to Narita International Airport Corporation, the number of foreign passengers who traveled to and from the airport aboard international flights last year exceeded that of Japanese passengers for the first time since the airport opened about 40 years ago. Also in January, the Osaka tourism authorities announced the large influx of foreign travelers to the region, for the past several years, has meant Osaka has had one of the highest hotel occupancy rates of any major city in the country, running at nearly 90 percent certain times of the year. Under these circumstances, our office is looking to expand the number of low and medium-rise resort and business hotels in this country constructed with wood, just like we have seen been designed and built in North America that past 10 years.