December & 2023 Year End Japan Housing Starts

Shawn Lawlor

By: Shawn Lawlor

Managing Director, Canada Wood Japan/COFI Japan

December & 2023 Year End Non-Residential Construction

Total Japanese housing starts fell 4.0% in December to finish at 64,586 units. Owner occupied starts fell 13.8%, registering the 25th consecutive monthly decline. Rental housing trailed year prior levels by 3.6%. Total wooden starts declined 3.4% to 35,730 units. Post and beam starts dropped 5.9% to 27,683 units. Wooden prefab grew 7.4% in December to 897 units. However, total prefab fell 7% for the month to 7,444 units.

While 2×4 starts posted comparatively positive results, increasing 0.4% in December to 7,150 units. December results of 2×4 starts by housing type were as follows: single family custom homes fell 1.3% to 2,419 units, rental housing increased 8.9% to 3,964 units and built for sale spec housing declined 24.5% to 757 units.

For the full year, total housing starts fell 4.6% to 819,623 units. Total wooden housing starts fell 4.9% to 454,427 in 2023. Post and Beam starts fell 6.2% to 353,306 units. Wooden pre-fab starts increased 1.8% to 10,329 units, but total pre-fab starts fell 8.1% to 103,403 units. Thanks to a resilience in multi-family construction 2×4 starts held relatively firm, falling 0.5% to 90,792 units. Non-wooden starts posted a decline of 2.5% to 272,122 units.

December & 2023 Year End Non-Residential Construction

December total non-residential starts decreased 7% to 3,406 units, but total non-residential floor area increased 3.2% to 2,990,391m2. December wooden non-residential starts dropped 10.7% to 1,239 units, however, floor area increased 1.7% to 247,739m2. By wood use, the leading building types were in order medical, elderly care and welfare, business services, mixed residential-commercial, restaurants and accommodation and commercial wholesale and retail.

Looking back at 2023, total non-residential starts fell 5.6% to 44,187 units. Total floor area declined 4.1% to 37,139,790m2. Although wood fell as well, the decline was less pronounced. Wooden non-residential starts retreated 4.8% to 16,707 units. By number of starts the market share for wood held firm at 38%. Wooden floor area eased down 1.2% to finish at 3,183,534m2. Total wood use in non-residential construction is estimated at 557,000m3. Measured by floor area the market share for wood increased slightly to 8.6%. Looking at estimated wood consumption by building type, medical, elderly care and social welfare buildings led with an estimated 163,374m3; followed by business services at 74,642m3; mixed residential & commercial at 73,322m3: restaurants & accommodation at 54,689m3 and commercial wholesale & retail at 30,501m3.