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Maritime transportation in Japan - statistics & facts

For the island nation of Japan, the fourth-biggest economy of the world, maritime transportation is indispensable. On the one hand, international maritime transport is vital because more than 99 percent of Japan’s foreign trade is realized via sea. On the other hand, domestically operating ships are a feasible mode of transport, moving over 87 million passengers and 350 million tons of goods across more than 400 inhabited islands. On top of that, maritime transport supplies goods, services, and work to many people on sea and land, in Japan and elsewhere.

Shipping: only one piece of the maritime cluster

At the core of the cluster of maritime industries are the shipping and shipbuilding industries. The former includes terminal operators and harbor transport businesses and the latter works hand in hand with the ship machinery industry. Usually, they also provide repair services. Moreover, ship classification and the authorities controlling ports and ships are also a key element of the maritime industry.
Partner industries engage in finance, insurance, trading, brokerage, warehousing, logistics, among others and associate industries are essentially those which need their goods shipped, such as car manufacturers. Lastly, neighboring industries include maritime defense and safety, ocean development and civil engineering, fishing and marine agriculture, marine leisure, and research. Above all, the government is involved closely with the maritime industry and aims to implement its policies through cooperation and coordination.

LNG bunkering: the key to economic success?

The most prominent government strategy is to become a leading liquified natural gas (LNG) bunkering hub. With stricter regulations by the International Maritime Organization having come into effect in 2020 and the target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by half until 2050 (compared to 2008), LNG is expected to become a major marine fuel. 
Japan, the biggest LNG importer, sees itself in a favorable position to supply vessels on global trading routes in tandem with Singapore, the biggest marine fuel bunkering hub. Therefore, maritime cluster businesses like NYK Line, “K” Line, Toyota, and Sumitomo have joined forces with government-related companies and founded Central LNG Shipping Japan Corporation and Ecobunker Shipping Corporation. Technologically, the young joint-ventures specialize in ship-to-ship bunkering, the first time conducted in Japan in October 2020.
Ultimately, this strategy aims to bolster international competitiveness in Japan by improving supply chains and establishing frequent and worldwide direct shipping. In other words: revenue and employment through cargo volume, low cost, and convenience. The number of stopovers at Japanese ports will show the success of this strategy. 

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Maritime transportation in Japan

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