What are the industries in Japan

Industry structure

Construction industry very domestically influenced

Japan has an extensive construction industry that is dominated by a few large general construction companies and a large number of small, local construction companies. Statistics from the responsible industry ministry recorded more than 472,000 companies of all sizes that are active in the construction sector at the end of March 2020. The number of construction companies has increased further in recent years. Of these, 149 foreign companies (as of the end of March 2019) had a license in Japan. However, these do not include large general contractors, but rather many consulting firms and construction suppliers.

At the top of the building pyramid are five Japanese construction companies, all of which have sales over US $ 10 billion, above all Obayashi and Kajima. Extensive large-scale projects in Japan, such as the modernization of downtown areas, are carried out by the major general contractors in cooperation with real estate developers. They are also well represented in infrastructure construction and public construction projects. These are well networked.

Largest construction companies in Japan, fiscal year 2019 * (in billion US $)

Construction sector continues to develop

Firms are investing in automation as the workforce shrinks. For example, the construction company Shimizu has been using the first robots since 2018 to lift and transport heavy building materials or other hazardous activities. Robots are also used for welding work. Another construction company, Fujita, uses remote-controlled demolition robots on construction sites. Their share is still small, but companies want to increase this quickly with advances in technology.

Due to a shrinking population in Japan and diminishing prospects for major projects in their home market, local construction companies are increasingly looking abroad. In addition, the Japanese government gives very favorable loan terms to support infrastructure construction, especially in developing countries. Therefore, Japan's general contractors have been active abroad for a long time, for example in many projects of the Asian Development Bank or many public projects in Asian countries. For German construction suppliers, business in third markets can be interesting, for which good contacts to Japanese construction companies help.

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