Japan expanding import capacity

The U.S. Grains Council 2011 Corn Mission to Japan, China and Vietnam toured the Kushiro Port in Hokkaido, Japan, and heard firsthand the plans to expand the port’s capacity to accommodate larger vessels.
Kushiro is the largest port facility in the heart of Japan’s major dairy producing area – Hokkaido, Japan.

Japan is the largest importer of U.S. corn and the country is expanding its importing capabilities.

The Director of the Kushiro Port Office for Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) Tetsuya Hayakawa explained to the group that the port was selected in June by MLIT as one of the eight ports designated to undergo a massive expansion in an effort to remain competitive internationally. While Japan can accept the capsize or the post-panamax vessels expected with the expansion of the Panama Canal, this initiative will contribute greatly to Japan’s ability to handle larger ships with a faster distribution process.

Mission participant Tom Mueller, from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, said the visit was a worthwhile and vital interaction as the expansion of the port will help to increase Japan’s grain import capacity at a competitive price.

“Japan is our number one market for corn. This expansion and work to accommodate the larger vessels will help to ensure that Japan will continue to be a reliable customer. At the same time, it will help to reduce transportation costs, and positively attribute to Japan’s ability to remain competitive,” he said.

Paul Herringshaw, a corn grower from Bowling Green, Ohio, is representing the Ohio Corn Marketing Program as part of the high-level leadership mission to three key Asian markets – Japan, China and Vietnam – from Nov. 29 to Dec. 9.

“We will have the opportunity to meet with several industry leaders and farmers in each of the countries that we visit. It will be most interesting to see China’s impact on the world market directly,” Herringshaw said. “We’ll also have the opportunity to answer any questions or concerns that that these buyers and end users have about the U. S. corn crop.”

The mission is an opportunity for collaborative learning, as growers gain firsthand exposure to the dynamics of developing and defending export markets and at the same time, share their insights about the supply and quality of the new U.S. corn crop with key customers.


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