Japan, dethroned as the world’s No.1 shipbuilding nation over the past decade, is promoting mergers among local shipyards to help compete with China and South Korea.
The Maritime Bureau, which oversees the industry, is surveying companies to help find potential combinations, Director-General Norifumi Idee said.
“Japanese yards need to invest in research and development,” he said. “By merging operations, it will be easier to do that.”
Japanese yards need to grow in size and develop new technologies as they have lost market share to larger shipbuilders overseas, he said.
China has become the world’s biggest shipbuilding nation, a title previously held for decades by Japan, on the back of government investment and low wages.
The stronger yen has also prompted merger talks among Japanese shipbuilders, as the currency makes their vessels more expensive.
Most Japanese-made ships are sold in dollars. JFE Holdings Inc. (5411), Japan’s second-largest steelmaker, and IHI Corp. (7013) are holding talks on combining their shipbuilding operations. The deal could be expanded to include other yards, Shinjiro Mishima, head of JFE’s shipyard unit, said in March.
Japanese shipyards are investing fuel-saving technologies to lure customers. Imabari Shipbuilding Co., the country’s largest shipyard, for instance, has developed a hybrid fin that is attached behind a ship’s propeller and helps channel the flow of water to the rudder. That cuts fuel use by as much as 6 percent.
Published : August 8, 2011