USDA report provides background on Japan’s Clean Wood Act

By Erin Voegele | June 05, 2017

A report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network in late May provides background information Japan’s recently implemented Clean Wood Act, which aims to ensure domestic and imported wood are harvested legally. According to the report, the act was implemented on May 20 and impacts most forest products, including logs, lumber, furniture and wood pellets. Particle board and products made from recycled wood are excluded. The government of Japan is expected to begin registering companies that procure domestic or import foreign forestry products in October.

The report explains that the act recognizes legality based on the policies of the government that is the source of the wood, rather than on a standard set by the government of Japan. In drafting the policy, the Japanese government reviewed legislation in other markets, including the U.S. Lacey Act, which is a conservation law established in 1900 that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been taken, possessed, transported or sold illegally.

According to the report, the act requires registered operators to maintain verification documentation for five years. Compliance, however, is voluntary except for government-funded construction projects.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Forestry Agency (MAFF/FA) began accepting applications in late May from organizations that will register companies that procure, import or handle forestry products. The report indicates registration is voluntary and applies to domestic operators, not foreign suppliers.

Two kinds of operators are defined under the act. Type 1 operators are those that procure forest products from domestic producers or import them from foreign suppliers. Type 2 operators are those that handle lumber and forestry products already available in the market.

As part of the new policy, the MAFF/FA has created pages for Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vietnam, Russia, the U.S., Canada, the EU, China and Chile that outline those country’s policies on legal forest harvest. The website for the United States can be found online at http://www.rinya.maff.go.jp/j/riyou/goho/usa/info.html

Additional information is available in the USDA FAS GAIN report.