May 31 - With shipowners and vessel operators facing a combination of increased regulation and pressure on budgets, the cost of products and services is more crucial than ever, according to Yoshihiro Iizuka, general manager of Wilhelmsen Ships Services (W
Speaking at the Bari-Ship Japan maritime conference and exhibition in Imabari, Iizuka stated: "The Japanese shipping market remains difficult and this is expected to continue for the next year, despite the successful measures taken by the government to stimulate growth.
"With increasing competition on labour from China and Korea, Japan is at risk of losing business, with the smaller shipyards and owners suffering the most," Iizuka explains.
Looking the future of the Japanese market, Iizuka said: "The big question is how factors such as currency development linked with economic growth and tax reduction will affect seaborne traffic. Add trade barriers and lower regulatory hurdles to that picture and we have a quite complex market landscape.
"However, with the efforts made in Japan, we will succeed in pushing up the long-term growth rate, leading to a recovery of the Japanese marine market. Whatever happens over the next 12 months, the movement of physical goods out of and into Japan will increase slowly, but steadily," Iizuka concluded.