In fiscal 1995, keels were laid for 314 vessels of 9,289,000GT (up 9% over the preceding year), 303 vessels of 9,165,000GT were launched (up 13%), and 301 vessels of 9,057, 000GT were completed (up 9%), showing an increase in each activity.
The newbuilding order backlog at the end of March 1996 comprised 407 vessels of 13,947,000GT, up 9% over the end of March 1995.
The total included 28 domestic vessels of 1,458,000GT and 379 export vessels of 12,489,000GT.
Repairs and conversions
The foreign exchange rate of the yen has sharply appreciated, and the average for 1995 was over 90yen per dollar. The strong yen deteriorated the international competitive power of the Japanese shiprepair business, resulting in a downtrend in the shiprepairing business. As a result, the shiprepair business in Japan decreased by 4% down to \135.8 billion compared with 1994. In particular, repair activities for foreign owners drastically decreased. This fall was due to the following reasons. The technical gap in shiprepair has lessened between Japanese shipbuilders and other shipbuilders, and the Japanese shiprepairers have terminated use of tin-based antifouling shipbottom paints such as TBT, so foreign owners now avoid Japanese shiprepairers.
The number of workers engaged in shipbuilding (including those at subcontractors) and ship machinery manufacturing was 120,000 at the end of 1995. Their average age at present is over 40.
In Japan, further modernization and automatization of shipbuilding facilities are now required to cope with the aging of the working population. Improved working environments and employment conditions are necessary for recruiting young employees, and the industry must also provide training systems to seek competent staff.
The combined sales of the 18 member companies of the Shipbuilders' Association of Japan were \7,207 billion in fiscal 1995, a slight increase over the preceding year.
Classified by the total sales by business sectors, the shipbuilding business (comprising newbuilding, shiprepair and conversion) amounted to \1,189.3 billion (down 11% from the preceding year), and all other sectors (heavy machinery, industrial plants, etc.) to \6,017.7billion (up 6%). The share of the shipbuilding sector in total sales was 16% in fiscal 1995.
The contribution of the shipbuilding business to the overall sales at each company averaged 10% for the seven major companies and 89% for the 11 medium-size shipbuilders. This indicates the very high proportion of non-marine business in the seven major companies, which are comprehensive heavy industries, whereas the 11 medium-size companies are more specialized shipbuilders, relying heavily on the marine business.