That dollar amount reflects a -1.3% reduction compared to $757.5 billion in 2021.
From 2018 to 2022, the overall value of Japanese exported goods rose by 1.2% from $738.2 billion.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Japanese yen fell by -19.1% against the US dollar since 2018 and declined by -19.8% from 2021 to 2022. Japan’s weaker local currency made exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive in 2022 starting from the stronger US dollar.
Japan’s 5 biggest export products by value in 2022 were cars, electronic integrated circuits and microassemblies, semiconductor-making machinery, automotive parts or accessories, and heavy machinery such as bulldozers, excavators or road rollers. In aggregate, that quintet of major exports account for over one quarter (26%) of overall export sales from Japan. That group of commodities suggests a relatively diversified range of exported goods.
Japan ranks among world-leading nations for exporting cars and automotive parts or accessories and is a major competitor among Asian nations in the international trade of electronic circuits.
Japan’s Best International Trade Customers
The latest available country-specific data shows that about three-quarters (75.6%) of products exported from Japan were bought by importers in: mainland China (19.4% of Japan’s global total), United States of America (18.7%), South Korea (7.3%), Taiwan (7%), Hong Kong (4.4%), Thailand (4.3%), Singapore (3%), Germany (2.6%), Vietnam (2.5%), Australia (2.2%), Malaysia (also 2.2%) and Indonesia (2%).
From a continental perspective, 59.9% of Japan exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 21.3% were sold to North American importers.
Japan shipped another 12.4% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania led by Australia (2.8%), Latin America (2.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean then Africa (1.3%).
Given Japan’s population of 125.2 million people, its total $747.3 billion in 2022 exported products translates to roughly $6,000 for every resident in the East Asian island nation. That per-capita dollar amount is about the same as one year earlier in 2021.
Japan’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Japanese global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Japan.
- Machinery including computers: US$142 billion (19% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $135.4 billion (18.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $113.4 billion (15.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $38.8 billion (5.2%)
- Iron, steel: $35.1 billion (4.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $27 billion (3.6%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $18.2 billion (2.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $17.5 billion (2.3%)
- Organic chemicals: $17.3 billion (2.3%)
- Other chemical goods: $14.3 billion (1.9%)
Japan’s top 10 exports accounted for three-quarters (74.8%) of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 78.2% since 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was gems and precious metals, which was rose 22.1% led by gold and platinum.
Japan’s shipments of iron and steel posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 0.8% year over year.
The leading decliner among Japan’s top 10 export categories was plastics both materials and items made from plastic articles weighed down by an -11% reduction compared to 2021.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Japan’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.
Products Generating Best Trade Surpluses for Japan
The following types of Japanese product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus for 2022. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Vehicles: US$113.3 billion (Down by -1.3% since 2021)
- Machinery including computers: $70.2 billion (Down by -7.8%)
- Iron, steel: $24.8 billion (Down by -4.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $10.8 billion (Down by -26.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $8.8 billion (Down by -32.1%)
- Copper: $8.7 billion (Down by -8.3%)
- Ships, boats: $8.6 billion (Down by -3.9%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $5.5 billion (Up by 10.3%)
- Photo/cinematographic goods: $4.8 billion (Down by -5.9%)
- Other chemical goods: $4.2 billion (Down by -40.9%)
Japan has notably positive net exports in the international trade of automobiles thanks to world-leading automotive corporations including Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. In turn, these cashflows indicate Japan’s strong competitive advantages under the vehicles product category.
Products Causing Worst Trade Deficits for Japan
Japan incurred an overall -$150.4 billion trade deficit for 2022, swelling by 825% compared to -$16.3 billion in red ink in 2021.
Below are exports from Japan that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Japan’s goods trail Japanese importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$235.1 billion (Up by 62.2% since 2021)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$31.7 billion (Up by 5.8%)
- Ores, slag, ash: -$31.5 billion (Down by -8.3%)
- Wood: -$12.9 billion (Up by 19.8%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$12.7 billion (Up by 3.4%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$11.6 billion (Up by 6.0%)
- Meat: -$10.8 billion (Up by 3.5%)
- Fish: -$9.6 billion (Up by 6.4%)
- Cereals: -$9.5 billion (Up by 27.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: -$7.9 billion (Down by -0.9%)
Japan has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for crude oil, petroleum gases and coal.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Japan’s competitive disadvantages in the international fossil fuel market, but also represent key opportunities for Japan to improve its position in the global economy through focused innovations for energy-related products.
Japanese Export Companies
Wikipedia lists many of the larger international trade players from Japan.
- Toyota Motor (cars, trucks)
- Japan Tobacco (tobacco)
- Denso (automotive parts)
- Canon (business products, supplies)
- Takeda Pharmaceutical (pharmaceuticals)
- Hitachi (electronics)
- Fanuc (industrial products)
- Panasonic (electronics)
- Astellas Pharma (pharmaceuticals)
- Nippon Steel (iron, steel)
- Mitsubishi Electric (electrical equipment)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following companies are also examples of leading Japanese exporters.
- Honda Motor (vehicles, automotive parts)
- Nissan Motor (vehicles, automotive parts)
- Kubota (tractors, excavators, other heavy equipment)
Searchable List of Japan’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Japan during 2022. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2021.
|Rank||Japan's Export Product||Value (US$)||Change|
|3||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$31,009,388,000||+1.5%|
|5||Processed petroleum oils||$14,624,140,000||+102.3%|
|6||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$12,374,800,000||+8%|
|7||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$11,103,454,000||+3.2%|
|10||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$9,238,044,000||-10%|
|11||Cruise/cargo ships, barges||$8,781,096,000||-8.1%|
|14||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$7,278,136,000||-12.4%|
|16||Flat-rolled other alloy steel products||$6,365,410,000||+10.6%|
|17||Piston engine parts||$6,075,987,000||-10.8%|
|19||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$5,823,657,000||+2.5%|
|20||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$5,691,465,000||-2.6%|
|21||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$5,602,183,000||-17.9%|
|22||Other measuring/testing machines||$5,559,503,000||+0.5%|
|23||Rubber tires (new)||$5,413,529,000||+7.6%|
|24||Electric storage batteries||$5,396,612,000||-3.6%|
|26||Air or vacuum pumps||$5,368,121,000||-5.1%|
|27||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$5,071,696,000||-6.3%|
|28||Chemicals used in electronics||$4,980,377,000||+8.6%|
|29||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$4,928,370,000||-20.9%|
|30||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$4,746,973,000||-9.2%|
|31||Medication mixes in dosage||$4,593,956,000||+2.1%|
|32||Electrical converters/power units||$4,592,729,000||-8.8%|
|33||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$4,528,559,000||-8%|
|34||Chemical industry products/residuals||$4,347,578,000||-4.3%|
|35||Ball, roller bearings||$4,236,579,000||-7.3%|
|37||Optical fiber cables, sheets, plates||$3,962,701,000||-8.7%|
|39||Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers||$3,783,310,000||-6.8%|
|40||Electric motors, generators||$3,723,308,000||-6.4%|
|43||Liquid pumps and elevators||$3,558,787,000||-13.6%|
|45||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$3,243,066,000||-2.1%|
|48||Iron or steel scrap||$3,107,104,000||-14.1%|
|49||Electric ignition/start equipment||$3,090,301,000||-7.5%|
|50||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$3,045,666,000||+8.1%|
|51||Precious metal compounds||$2,910,681,000||-12.1%|
|52||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$2,883,201,000||-3.2%|
|54||Oxometal/peroxometal acid salts||$2,830,562,000||+37.1%|
|56||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$2,762,775,000||-11.2%|
|57||Self-adhesive plastic in rolls||$2,735,901,000||-13.5%|
|58||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$2,700,647,000||+2.1%|
|59||Phone system devices||$2,644,982,000||-9.5%|
|60||Iron or steel tubes, pipes||$2,644,312,000||+31.1%|
|61||Table games, bowling equipment||$2,638,755,000||-17.2%|
|62||Recorded sound media||$2,583,493,000||+0%|
|63||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$2,568,770,000||-12.2%|
|67||Lenses, prisms, mirrors||$2,244,296,000||+4.3%|
|69||Rubber/plastic article making machines||$2,208,732,000||-13.4%|
|71||Miscellaneous plastic items||$2,171,755,000||-8.3%|
|72||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$2,122,230,000||-6.9%|
|74||Copper waste, scrap||$2,041,593,000||-12.8%|
|76||Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps||$1,897,110,000||-20.5%|
|77||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,869,539,000||-14.4%|
|79||Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation)||$1,816,782,000||+17.6%|
|81||Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished)||$1,814,320,000||-10.8%|
|83||Interchangeable hand/machine tools||$1,803,602,000||-15.4%|
|84||Vinyl chloride polymers||$1,742,743,000||-1.8%|
|85||Paint/varnish non-aqueous solution||$1,661,149,000||-13.1%|
|88||TV/radio/radar device parts||$1,605,510,000||-24.6%|
|89||Electric motor parts||$1,597,150,000||-3.3%|
|90||Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$1,574,796,000||-10.5%|
|92||Copper plates, sheets, strips||$1,540,534,000||-5.9%|
|93||Aircraft or spacecraft parts||$1,534,710,000||+0%|
|94||Computers, optical readers||$1,474,824,000||-9.3%|
|96||Other machine parts, accessories||$1,433,519,000||-5.9%|
|97||Unrecorded sound media||$1,398,395,000||-15.9%|
|98||Vulcanized rubber items||$1,397,451,000||-11.7%|
|99||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$1,358,798,000||-3.3%|
|100||Liquid/gas checking instruments||$1,354,628,000||-6.7%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$540.4 billion or 72.3% by value for all products exported from Japan during 2022.
In macroeconomic terms, Japan’s total exported goods represent 12.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($6.11 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 13.4% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2022 is lower than the 13.4% in 2021. Those percentages suggest Japan’s relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Japan’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Japan’s unemployment rate averaged 2.55% for 2022, down from an average 2.817% for 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund.
See also Japan’s Top 10 Imports, Japan’s Top Trading Partners, Top Japanese Trade Balances and Japan’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
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International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 20, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 20, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 20, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 20, 2023
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on March 20, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Japan. Accessed on March 20, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 20, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 20, 2023
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 20, 2023