Japan’s Top 10 Imports

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Japanese imports amounted to US$671.2 billion in 2017, up by 10.6% since 2016 but down by -19.4% from 2013 to 2017.

Japan’s top 10 imports accounted for almost two-thirds (65.5%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.

Japanese imports represent about 4.2% of total global imports.

From a continental perspective, 60.3% of Japan’s total imports by value in 2017 were purchased from other Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 15.3% of import sales to Japan while 13.5% worth originated from North America compared to just 1.2% for Africa.

Given Japan’s population of 126.5 million people, its total $671.2 billion in 2017 imports translates to $5,300 in yearly product demand from every person in the country.

Japan’s Top 10 Imports

Top 10

The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Japan’s import purchases during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Japan.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$141.3 billion (21.1% of total imports)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: $97.6 billion (14.5%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $65.2 billion (9.7%)
  4. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $25.5 billion (3.8%)
  5. Vehicles: $22.4 billion (3.3%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: $22.4 billion (3.3%)
  7. Ores, slag, ash: $20.4 billion (3%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $15.9 billion (2.4%)
  9. Plastics, plastic articles: $15.1 billion (2.2%)
  10. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $13.6 billion (2%)

Mineral fuels including oil had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 27.5% from 2016.

In second place for improving import sales was the ores, slag and ash category via its 17.9% year-over-year gain.

In third place were imported organic chemicals (up 10.1%) followed by machinery including computers (up 9.7%) and electrical machinery and equipment (up 8.6%).

Pharmaceuticals was the sole top 10 category that posted a decline down by -8.2% compared to 2016.

Fuel

In 2017, Japanese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of fossil fuel:

  1. Crude oil: US$63.7 billion (up 25.4% from 2016)
  2. Petroleum gases: $40.3 billion (up 17.3%)
  3. Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $23.1 billion (up 51.5%)
  4. Processed petroleum oils: $12.9 billion (up 37.3%)
  5. Petroleum oil residues: $743.8 million (up 44.9%)
  6. Coke, semi-coke: $379.2 million (down -9.7%)
  7. Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $135.4 million (up 38.4%)
  8. Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $64.2 million (up 1.2%)
  9. Peat: $33 million (down -1.8%)
  10. Tar pitch, coke: $17.5 million (up 141.8%)

Among these import subcategories, Japanese purchases of tar pitch and coke (up 141.8%), coal and solid fuels made from coal (up 51.5%) and petroleum oil residues (up 44.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of fuel-related imports among Japanese businesses and consumers.

Electronics

In 2017, Japanese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electronics products:

  1. Phone system devices including smartphones: US$26.1 billion (up 10.5% from 2016)
  2. Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $19.4 billion (up 14.7%)
  3. Insulated wire/cable: $6.8 billion (up 10.3%)
  4. Solar power diodes/semi-conductors: $5.2 billion (down -12.3%)
  5. Electrical converters/power units: $3.2 billion (up 3.2%)
  6. TV/radio/radar device parts: $3.1 billion (down -0.1%)
  7. TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $3.1 billion (up 10.7%)
  8. Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $3 billion (up 10.9%)
  9. Electrical machinery: $2.7 billion (up 10.4%)
  10. Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $2.1 billion (up 10%)

Among these import subcategories, Japanese purchases of integrated circuits and microassemblies (up 14.7%), lower-voltage switches and fuses (up 10.9%) and TV receivers, monitors and projectors (up 10.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017.

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among Japanese businesses and consumers.

Machinery

In 2017, Japanese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery:

  1. Computers, optical readers: US$14.8 billion (up 12.1% from 2016)
  2. Turbo-jets: $6.6 billion (up 5%)
  3. Machinery for making semi-conductors: $4.6 billion (up 62.2%)
  4. Printing machinery: $3.9 billion (down -5.2%)
  5. Computer parts, accessories: $3 billion (up 14.2%)
  6. Air or vacuum pumps: $2.4 billion (up 5.6%)
  7. Taps, valves, similar appliances: $2.4 billion (up 6.3%)
  8. Air conditioners: $2.3 billion (up 3.3%)
  9. Miscellaneous machinery: $1.9 billion (up 20.8%)
  10. Piston engine parts: $1.8 billion (up 12.1%)

Among these import subcategories, Japanese purchases of machinery for making semi-conductors (up 62.2%), miscellaneous machinery (up 20.8%) and computer parts or accessories (up 14.2%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017. The only decliner among these subcategories was printing machinery (down -5.2%).

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Japanese businesses and consumers.

Tech

In 2017, Japanese importers spent the most on the following subcategories of technical equipment:

  1. Electro-medical equipment (e.g. x-rays): US$5.7 billion (up 1.9% from 2016)
  2. Orthopedic appliances: $3 billion (up 3.3%)
  3. Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates: $2.5 billion (up 9.5%)
  4. Other measuring/testing machines: $2.3 billion (up 12.6%)
  5. Regulate/control instruments: $2.1 billion (up 11.5%)
  6. Physical/chemical analysis tools: $1.4 billion (up 4.2%)
  7. X-ray equipment: $1.4 billion (down -2.9%)
  8. Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools: $1.1 billion (up 3.9%)
  9. Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers: $1 billion (up 6.5%)
  10. Mechano-therapy appliances: $872.8 million (up 11.1%)

Among these import subcategories, Japanese purchases of other measuring or testing machines (up 12.6%), regulate and control instruments (up 11.5%) and mechano-therapy appliances (up 11.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2016 to 2017. The only decliner among these subcategories was x-ray equipment (down -2.9%).

These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported technical equipment among Japanese businesses and consumers.



 
See also Japan’s Top Trade Partners, Highest Value Japanese Import Products and Top Japanese Trade Balances

Research Sources:
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed February 4, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 2, 2018