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The Japanese economy is relatively stable and very mature. The change noted in the composites sector these past few years has been gradual, and the decline observed from 2001 to 2003 appears to have come to a halt. Volumes in the first two quarters in 2004 rose again with respect to the figures for the corresponding period in 2003.
(Published on August-September 2005 – JEC Magazine #19)
There was a downward trend from 2001 to 2003, although the only noteworthy event in any of the main user sectors occurred in septic tanks, where volumes dropped from 61,300 metric tons (MT) in 2001 to 48,100 MT in 2003. For that reference period, we observe a slight downturn in the market with overall volumes decreasing from 359,200 MT to 337,400 MT.
The automotive sector continued its growth, however, reaching 24,200 MT in 2003.
Table 1: shipping statistics for composites (January 2001 – June 2004)
The major Japanese builders like Toyota and Nissan performed well on the whole, which explains the good results for composite materials in that sector.
Table 2: shipping amounts by process (1998-2003)
Another sector that was relatively stable is building and construction, which is also closely linked to the purchasing power of households. It dropped very slightly from 50,900 MT in 2001 to 50,700 in 2003, and the bathtubs/bath-units sector, which is itself highly dependent on building and construction, was also relatively stable, decreasing only slightly from 98,900 to 97,300 MT.
The development of niche markets is also worthy of note, with the “other” sectors increasing from 9,800 to 11,500 MT.
A look at the available data observed would indicate that the downward trend has been reversed. The volume figures for the first two quarters of 2004 are better than for the corresponding period in 2003. A slow rise is underway, with volumes increasing from 162,100 to 163,800 MT.