What does Japan import? Top export opportunities to Japan

What do we know about Japanese consumers?

Japan’s current population is 126 million (2019). 28% of these citizens, however, are above the age of 65, giving Japan the highest senior citizen count in the world. The latest official Gini Index number for Japan was 29.90 in 2018, with 100 representing absolute inequality and 0 for perfect income distribution.

Japan consists of a highly urbanised society with 92% of Japanese citizens living in the developed urban cities of the nation.

Its coastal megacities and super-efficient public transport system have enabled Tokyo to be included in the prestigious list of the world’s most advanced and connected cities. The average Japanese consumer prefers to make frequent purchases at convenient, small-scale stores.

What are Japan’s top exports?

  • Petroleum
  • Liquid natural gas
  • Clothing
  • Semi-conductors
  • Coal
  • Audio and visual apparatus

Which countries are Japan’s top import partners? (Percentage of total imports)

  • China (23%)
  • United States (11.2%)
  • Australia (6.3%)
  • Saudi Arabia (3.83%)
  • UAE (3.63%)
  • Qatar (4.1%)
  • South Korea (4.1%)

Japan’s main cargo airports

  • Narita International Airport, Tokyo
  • Haneda/ Tokyo International Airport, Tokyo
  • Kansai International Airport, Osaka

Japan’s primary container shipping ports

There are 22 major ports in Japan and 1,020 in all. Here are five of their busiest container ports:

  • Port of Tokyo
  • Port of Yokohama
  • Port of Nagoya
  • Port of Kobe
  • Port of Osaka

What are Japan’s import regulations and laws?

The import process in Japan is largely automated and swift.

It begins with an import permit post an examination of the goods being imported. Then, an import declaration is required to be lodged. This contains all the necessary particulars of the shipment. A declaration is usually drafted with the help of a local customs broker.

This is followed by a customs duty payment form along with the following supporting documents:

  • Invoice
  • Bill of lading or airway bill
  • Certificate of origin
  • Packing lists, freight accounts, insurance certificates etc
  • Applicable licenses and certificates
  • Detailed statement regarding reduction or exemption from customs duty and excise tax (where applicable)
  • Customs duty payment slip

Japan has strict laws pertaining to a) banned goods b) quarantined goods and c) narcotics. These need to be adhered to.

Japanese import tariffs and taxes

Japan utilises the Harmonized Classification system which specifies a General rate. Certain products, however fall under the Temporary Tariff rates while goods from certain developing countries are slotted under a Preferential rate system.

Apart from the duty, other taxes include consumption tax and excise.

Upon request, you may be permitted to receive tariff information prior to the import declaration procedure via the Advance Classification Ruling System.

Japan holds Economic Partnership Agreements with Singapore, Mexico and Malaysia. Goods from these countries are valued under the relevant agreements.

Japan’s unique distribution system

Traditionally, the Japanese distribution and sale system has been one that follows a unique business philosophy. This system favours the smaller retailer while channels are largely controlled by manufacturers. It is typically characterised by numerous middlemen, wholesalers and smaller stores.

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