Comprised of 19 groups and associations that are involved in forest thinning and wood material gathered from forest thinning, the Forest Thinning and Forest Thinning Material Use Promotion Network recently selected the award winners of the Forest Thinning and Forest Thinning Material Use Contest for fiscal 2017 and held an awards ceremony in Tokyo. For the contest, efforts were awarded in the category of “Product Creation and Utilization Division”, which targets efforts related to using material gathered from forest thinning and creating products that utilize material gathered from forest thinning, and in the category of “Conducting Forest Thinning and Environmental Education Division”, which targets efforts related to carrying out forest thinning and to environmental education concerning forest thinning. Among the works and effort that applied for the contest between June and September of this year, a total of 12 entries received awards: 6 entries in the “Product Creation and Utilization Division” and 6 entries in the “Conducting Forest Thinning and Environmental Education Division”. In the “Product Creation and Utilization Division”, the Forestry Agency Director-General’s Award was presented to Emachu Mokuzai Co., Ltd. for its “S-Tech Wood, Use of Exterior and Louver Material Using Forest Thinning Material Produced in Saitama Prefecture”. S-Tech Wood is made from material gathered from forest thinning produced in Saitama Prefecture and undergoes a pressurized heating treatment, which prevents it from easily rotting and deforming when used outdoors. It was used in the interior and exterior as louvers at the Children Support Center in Tokorozawa City. It was highly evaluated for creating a feeling of warmth of the local material and for having undergone heat treatment without the use of any chemicals so that it can be touched safely without worries even by children.
On November 8, Shelter Co., Ltd. (Yamagata City) announced that it has installed the first three-dimensional processing machine in Japan and has made practical use of a new “shaving out” technology to cut complex shapes of component parts from wood. The company will begin sales in the market as a group of component parts with curves and twists called “FREE WOOD”. The “shaving out” technology that was installed by the company is a technology with very few examples in the world, and this technology was realized by the three-dimensional processing machine and by the development of the latest design and processing application software that controls the machine. Processing twisting shapes that were seen as difficult up to now and assembling multiple component parts with different angles and curvatures became possible, and freedom in design also increased. In the near future, the company will propose “FREE WOOD” to design offices and architects that have a preference in design and will target its use in public buildings and commercial facilities. Because offering wood construction alternatives to designers, who have up to now demanded freedom in design by choosing steel framed construction or reinforced concrete construction, became possible, an expansion in lumber demand can be expected.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced that the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP 11 Agreement) have been agreed upon at the TPP ministers meeting held at Da Nang, Vietnam. According to the announcement, the agreement is one agreed to by 11 countries excluding the United States that signed TPP, and the content is within the scope of TPP that reached a broad agreement in November 2015. Concerning lumber within the contents of the TPP that was outlined in 2015, the following points were announced: 1) concerning 15 items such as plywood, particle boards, MDF, and SPF wood products, the import tariffs of Japan will be abolished. 2) From 10-15 years after the agreement takes effect, the tariff rates will decrease in stages, and from the 11th-16th year, “safeguards” measures for the complete abolishment will be set up for every import country and item. 3) Concerning other matters, agreements will be made between the two concerned countries.