February & March 2021 Japan Housing and Non-Reconstruction Starts

Shawn Lawlor

By: Shawn Lawlor

Managing Director, Canada Wood Japan/COFI Japan

February & March 2021 Japan Housing Starts

Despite some signs of improvement, Japan’s housing market continued to face headwinds in February & March. Total February housing starts fell 3.7%, followed by a slight 1.5% increase in March to 71,787 units. Total wooden starts declined 1% in February to 35,448 units. In March wooden starts fell 2.8% to 39,008 units. We are starting to see some recovery in rental housing. Rental housing narrowed the decline to 0.4% in February and posted growth of 2.6% in March for the first monthly gain in 31 months. While likely somewhat overly optimistic, it is interesting to note that MLIT increased their seasonally adjusted annual housing starts forecast to 880,000 units for fiscal 2021.

By wooden housing type, post and beam starts are outperforming wooden pre-fab and 2×4 construction. In March post and beam starts increased 1.9% to 31,159 units compared to an 18.9% decline in 2×4 starts and 7.1% decline in wooden pre-fab. Average results of 2×4 construction were weighed down by a 29.5% decline in multi-family starts. As the relative weighting of 2×4 single family starts is increasing, average floor area increased 5.4% to 79.4m3 per unit.

March 2021 Non-Residential Construction

Between January and March 2021 total number of non-residential starts fell 8% to 10,205 units, however, non-residential floor area increased 6.5% to 8.75 million square meters. Wooden non-residential starts dipped 1.8% however floor area increased 5.4% to 722,057m2. The top five building types for wood use was led by medical, elderly care and social welfare facilities, mixed residential / commercial, agricultural, business services and the restaurant & hospitality sector.