Japanese export ship orders fell 8.5 percent in June from a year earlier to 499,370 gross tons, according to figures released by the Japan Ship Exporters’ Association.
It was the third straight monthly drop on a year-over-year basis, but the pace of decline significantly slowed from 43.5 percent in April and 44.6 percent in May.
Japanese shipbuilders received orders for six export ships –three bulk carriers and three tankers – in June. The six vessels total 280,129 compensated gross tons.
In the first half of 2012, Japanese export ship orders sank 31.1 percent from the same six-month period last year to about 3.488 million gross tons. In the January-June period, Japanese shipbuilders received orders for 67 export ships, which total about 1.554 million compensated gross tons.
Japan is one of the world’s top shipbuilding nations along with South Korea and China. But Japanese shipbuilders are now struggling as demand for new vessels among ship owners is flagging amid a slowdown in the global economy, due largely to the deep European debt crisis.
Japanese shipbuilders are also facing increasingly tough competition from their South Korean and Chinese rivals amid the steep appreciation of the yen, which badly erodes their international price competitiveness as it makes Japanese products more expensive abroad.
Kazuaki Kama, the SAJ’s chairman, said at a recent press conference that the current situation surrounding the Japanese shipbuilding industry “remains harsh.” Kama is also chairman of IHI Corp.