Celebrating 100 Years of Wood Trade between Canada and Japan : Part I

By: Scott Anderson

Canada Wood Japan / APA representative

In the wake of the devastating Great Kanto earthquake that struck Tokyo on September 1, 1923, claiming the lives of over 140,000 people and causing extensive destruction, H.R. MacMillan Export Company, a Canadian forest products firm, played a pivotal role in the reconstruction efforts. The company entered into a contract with the Japanese government, supplying two shiploads of lumber to aid in rebuilding. This marked the beginning of the timber trade between Canada and Japan, a historic milestone that will be commemorated on its 100th anniversary.

To celebrate this significant trade partnership, the Canada Wood Japan office will oversee a series of articles in the Nikkan Mokuzai newspaper (Daily Forest Products Journal). The aim is to emphasize Canada’s commitment to the Japanese market and raise awareness of Canada’s longstanding contribution to Japan’s wood construction industry. These monthly two-page articles will cover various aspects, including:

  1. The Canada-Japan wood products trade from 1923 to 1970.
  2. The establishment of the COFI Japan Office in 1974 and the growth of the 2×4 market in Japan.
  3. Canada’s influential role in the development of wooden construction, particularly in shaping the 2×4 market in Japan.
  4. Canada’s dedication to sustainable forest products management and its track record of environmental stewardship.
  5. Canada’s significant contributions to technical advancements and market development in non-residential, mid-rise, and mass timber construction.
  6. The future outlook for Canada-Japan forest products trade.

The first article, set to be published at the end of May, will feature the former Japan Rail Kunitachi Station, constructed in 1926 using Canadian timber imported for the post-earthquake reconstruction efforts. Although the station was dismantled in 2006, the original wood was recycled and used to build a tourist information center. The center opened in 2020, situated in front of the new station. This remarkable story exemplifies the outstanding performance and environmental friendliness of Canadian lumber.

Image: Japan Rail Kunitachi Station

In this milestone year, the series of articles will not only reflect on the past but also highlight the enduring partnership between Canada and Japan in the forest products trade. It will showcase Canada’s contributions, achievements, and dedication to sustainable practices while fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the longstanding collaboration between the two nations.