Japanese export ship orders fell for the second straight year in 2012, plunging 9.3 percent to 8,126,996 gross tons, according to figures released by the Japan Ship Exporters’ Association (JSEA) on Friday.
Japanese shipbuilders received orders for 177 export ships, including 147 bulk carriers, in 2012, down 41 from the previous year. The 177 ships total 3,787,171 compensated gross tons.
In December, Japanese export ship orders fell for the first time in five months on a year-on-year basis, plummeting 45.4 percent to 656,290 gross tons. Japanese shipbuilders received orders for 20 export ships, 19 of them bulk carriers, in December. The 20 ships total 329,860 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 shipowners is flagging amid a slowdown in the global economy.
Japanese shipbuilders are also facing increasingly stiff competition from their South Korean and Chinese rivals as the steep appreciation of the yen in recent years has seriously eroded their international price competitiveness.
The gross tonnage of Japanese export ship orders in 2012 is nearly 70 percent lower than a record high of 26,760,344 gross tons in 2003.
There are growing concerns in the Japanese shipbuilding industry over the so-called “2014 crisis.” If export ship orders remain in the doldrums, order backlogs could disappear at many Japanese shipyards as early as 2014, industry observers said.