Muted celebration for Japan’s first new drydock this century amid rampant competition

Japan’s largest shipbuilder yesterday celebrated the official opening of the nation’s first new drydock this century with the yard’s boss using the occasion to take a swipe at his Asian rivals.

The $359m drydock at Imabari Shipbuilding’s Marugame yard is 610 m long and 80 m wide, capable of building the largest boxships afloat. However, despite having thirteen 18,000+ teu ships to deliver to owners Mitsui OSK Lines and Evergreen through to the end of 2019, Imabari’s president Yukito Higaki is not too confident of winning many more big boxship orders, amid severe competition from neighbouring yards.

“It’s undeniable that Chinese and South Korean shipbuilders have the upper hand over us in sales talks because of assistance from their governments,” Higaki said at a press conference yesterday. “It is not pure price competition,” he stressed.

Japanese shipbuilders have been very vocal in recent years against Korean and Chinese rivals receiving state aid, even taking their complaints to the OECD in April this year.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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