Congratulations on Your Retirement Fumoto San!

Shawn Lawlor

By: Shawn Lawlor

Managing Director, Canada Wood Japan/COFI Japan

After 26 years of service as COFI Japan’s Manager of Technical Services and Deputy Director, Hidehiko Fumoto is celebrating his retirement effective October 1st. On September 27th our Tokyo office held a small ceremony recognizing Fumoto san for his dedication to the service of Canada’s forest products industry. To celebrate with us Canada’s new Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Ian McKay and key members of his team were on hand to present a framed letter of appreciation.

Fumoto san with the Canada Wood “Masked Avengers” Japan Team

Fumoto san has made significant and lasting contributions in advancing the market for Canadian forest products in Japan. When he joined us in 1995, platform frame construction represented only 5% of the housing market. By the late 2010s, 2×4 construction had grown to achieve a 13% market share. Over this same time period, Fumoto’s leadership in developing technical solutions aimed at overcoming barriers to wood use in non-residential and midrise construction helped drive diversification into new market segments.

Thanks to his technical work, COFI/Canada Wood Japan has achieved a cumulative total of over 50 MLIT Ministerial Approvals. This technical work set the stage for market expansion into multi-family apartments, non-residential and midrise structures as well as post and beam construction. Today over 4,000 fireproof structures, including 100’s of non-residential and midrise buildings have resulted from these efforts. Moreover, Fumoto’s involvement with building systems such as Midply and NLT continues to see significant commercial uptake by some of Japan’s largest builders and developers.

Fumoto san Awarded with Letter of Appreciation from Ambassador Ian McKay

His market access and government relations work has positively shaped our industry presence in Japan. To name a few examples, he was involved in having MLIT recognize NLGA as equivalent to JAS, thereby enabling Canadian sawmills to ship NLGA stamped lumber to Japan. When the Japan market was reluctant to accept Mountain Pine Beetle related blue stained SPF, Fumoto was deeply involved with testing and stakeholder relations efforts to effectively overcome market resistance. Fumoto san has always taken a sense of pride, dedication and professionalism in his work.  He leaves behind a legacy of numerous code and technical development achievements which have enhanced the growth and market positioning of Canada’s forest industry in Japan.

On behalf of our industry and our team, I would like to express my appreciation to Fumoto san and wish him many years of good health and happiness as he begins the next chapter of his life. I am also pleased to note that he will continue on as a technical advisor to our team in the future. Otsukare-sama Fumoto san!