Chapter 7 A New Start for Shipbuilding, and Shipping Business and Countermeasures To Aid Seamen

1. Expanding Sea Transport

  (1) Trends in oceangoing shipping
    Business was good for oceangoing shipping companies in FY1990, supported by favorable expansion in the Japanese economy, and operating income increased. Non-operating income and loss, operating income and loss, and net profit after taxes for the period rose for the third year in succession.
    However, the surplus was lower than for the previous year, due to an increase in the price of fuel.
There was a relative improvement in shipping business conditions into FY1991, and on regular North American lines there were revisions and intensiveness amongst business groupings.
    Efforts were made for orderly operation of routes by ships both within and without the alliance.
    However, the future of shipping business is as cloudy as in the past. Consistent effort is required to revitalize the competitiveness of international mercantile marines and to improve business. It is necessary to establish an effective physical distribution system which will be able to handle changes in the international distribution environment and to develop comprehensive, international distribution which incorporates ground transport, and includes a high quality information system.
    The number of Japanese traveling overseas byship is increasing yearly. New passenger routes are being opened up to countries surrounding Japan and passenger vessels are being commissioned successively. Efforts are required to ensure safe operation and protection of passengers. Demand should also be increased to ensure the sound development of passenger cruise business by offering "fly and cruise" options.
  (2) Establishment of a Sea Passenger Transport Network
    Measures are now being considered for furthering a modal shift from land to sea transport. Consideration is also being given to the form a ferry network which can handle changes in the structure of demand and the rising levels of transport services.
    The government is cooperating with local public entities for the establishment and maintenance of passenger's liner services to isolated islands.
  (3) Domestic Shipping, and Structural Improvements in Harbor Transport
    Small and medium sized companies form the greater part of the domestic shipping industry which is characterized by excessive competition. Structural improvements are underway in the industry.
    "Scrap and build" is one element of adjustment of tonnage of fleet carried out by the Japan Federation of Coastal Shipping Association. In recent years, the economy has been strong, demand for ships increased, and the modal shift is in the process of being implemented. To cope with this, efforts are being put into strengthening operations and striking a balance between the reserve ratio of ships to construction.
    A switch is being made to mechanization in harbor shipping in order to handle the advance in distribution needs and containerization. Matters such as the diversification of operations and the switch to the equipment industry has become important. Various measures such as construction of comprehensive import terminals are being taken to deal with this.

2. Shipbuilding Aiming for Higher Standards

    The Japanese shipbuilding industry has gotten rid of the uneven balance between supply and demand, and character of excessive competition. This has been brought about through the implementation of restructuring measures and an improvement in conditions in maritime transport.
    In the new shipbuilding industry, conditions are in place for potentially relatively stable operation. New operation will center on a strong demand for large volume construction replacing shipbuilding.
    It is important that consideration would be given to stability in mid-term and long-term demand and supply while raising the level of technology in the future, in order to restructure a market which has been weakened as a result of long-term depression.
    Further, the Japanese shipbuilding industry needs to make an international contribution which is befitting its international status based on discourse with other countries. This should contribute towards establishing order in the international shipbuilding industry, developing technology to preserve the international environment and include measures to control the operation of aged vessels.
    The marine industry, on the other hand, is experiencing a recovery in demand in shipbuilding along with increased production; however the impact of the past long-term slump will be long-term. In the future it is necessary to build on economic and social conditions and establish a business base which can handle changes in the market on a mid term and long-term basis.(fig49)

3. Countermeasures To Aid Seamen

    The number of seamen is being continually reduced due to factors including rationalization of operations by oceangoing shipping lines. Measures are being taken in order to secure employment for Japanese seamen on foreign ships.
    Necessary measures are also being taken in the domestic shipping industry, on the other hand, to deal with the occurrence of aging and shortages of seamen.
    A consensus has been reached for the inclusion of foreign seamen and vessels with mixed crews in ships such as oceangoing shipping passenger vessels, and deep sea fishing vessels, has been operated according to agreements reached with the companies concerned.
    Education of crews is undertaken to ensure they cope effectively in satisfying the social needs and to create a more attractive and international working environment.
    In modernizing the system for dealing with seamen, and consideration is being given to the direction of modernization of ships through building on achievements reached thusfar. Furthermore, in order to raise the level of seamen's working conditions, from around April 1992 working hours are to be reduced a certain degree. This is a first step towards early introduction of an average 40-hours-working week.

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