British Columbia Renews Commitment in Successful Japan Trade Mission

By: Victoria Hayes

Director, Corporate Relations at Forestry Innovation Investment

In a joint demonstration of commitment, British Columbia reinforces trade relationships with Japan while highlighting the province’s leadership in sustainable forest management

Led by B.C. Forests Minister Bruce Ralston, a delegation of over 40 delegates representing industry, government and First Nations, visited Tokyo, Japan, December 10-14, 2023. The mission focused on reaffirming B.C.’s commitment to the market and Japanese customers and communicating B.C.’s leadership in sustainable forest management. It also explored new opportunities to advance wood use across emerging applications, including non-residential, mid-rise, and mass timber construction.

To kick off the mission program, the delegation participated in a Japan program strategy review session, allowing B.C. delegates to learn about market dynamics and opportunities in Japan’s building sector and to provide Canada Wood Japan with feedback on the market development program to ensure alignment with B.C. forest sector priorities.

The 2023 mission included significant First Nations representation, led by Chief Lynda Price, Board Director with the B.C. Assembly of First Nations and Chief with the Ulkatcho First Nation. The CEO of the newly established B.C. First Nations Centre of Excellence for Economic Development, Deputy Chief Harlan Schilling, Chief Councillor John Jack with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and representatives from the First Nations Forestry Council were also in attendance. 

Chief Lynda Price, Board Director with the B.C. Assembly of First Nations and Chief with the Ulkatcho First Nation exchanged gifts with Port Plus project site host
Chief Councillor John Jack with Japanese stakeholders at the Embassy reception dinner

The program featured the third Canada-Japan Wood Forum, held to discuss the trends and policies shaping B.C.’s forest products industry and Japan market dynamics. With over 180 participants, the forum aimed to address global market challenges and reaffirm the commitment of the Canadian government and industry to the Japanese market. For the first time, a First Nations-focused panel was included to help inform Japanese stakeholders on the shared stewardship model that is emerging in B.C. and the strengths it brings to the future of B.C. supply and exports. To close the forum, Minister Ralston presented recognition awards to Xyence Co., Tsuda Sangyo Co. and Selco Home Inc. for their leadership in sustainably harvested forest products and advancements in Canadian construction in Japan.

First Nations-focused panel session at Canada-Japan Wood Conference
Minister Ralston presented recognition awards to Xyence Co

Throughout the program, the delegation attended several site visits. The delegation explored sustainable construction projects in Japan, including the 11-storey Port Plus mass timber building by Obayashi Corporation, showcasing advancements in Japan’s use of mass timber building systems and illustrating potential market approaches. Additionally, participants visited a Seiwa Corporation residential project using Canadian 2×4 construction, reflecting the multi-family residential market opportunity in Japan—and success of COFI/Canada Wood Japan consultations in implementing the 2×4 method in over 300 apartment complexes over the past five years.

Delegation group photo at Seiwa Apartment job site
Minister and delegates touring the Port Plus building

Government and First Nations representatives visited Mihashi Corporation’s Tokyo Showroom, where Huu-ay-aht-owned Timber Tiles were on display. Thanks to the support of BC Wood, Timber Tiles has been added to Mihashi’s product catalogue and is available across Mihashi’s Japan network. Chief Councillor John Jack with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and Minister Ralston were welcomed by Mihashi Corporation’s President during the visit.

Chief Councillor John Jack with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation awarded the product catalogue to the representative of Huu-ay-aht-owned Timber Tiles

Minister Ralston and the government delegation also engaged with key wood pellet stakeholders at a dinner hosted by the Wood Pellet Association of Canada, expressing gratitude for Japan’s commitment to B.C.’s forest sector and reinforcing the continued supply of sustainably sourced pellets.

On the last day of the program, the Minister and remaining delegates visited Wing 2×4 Panel Plant to see how S-P-F lumber products are being used to service residential and non-residential construction markets. Wing is a leading importer of Canadian S-P-F dimension lumber for sale and distribution throughout Japan. During the visit Wing announced a partnership with Chemainus-based Centurion Lumber to help advance affordable housing solutions in B.C.

Minister Ralston(left), John Gillis, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Centurion Lumber  (middle), Toshiyuki Kurata, President & CEO, Wing Co., Ltd.(right)
Tour of Wing plant

Across the program, Minister Ralston and B.C. delegates interacted with 200+ stakeholders across six site visits, three networking events and series of targeted meetings. The mission strengthened relations with key Japanese customers, advanced partnerships and demonstrated B.C.’s commitment to supplying sustainably sourced, high-quality wood products and low-carbon wood building solutions to the Japanese market.