Latest update: May 2022 

As Japan is an island nation, it is hugely dependent on the sea. It is also one of the world’s great maritime traders thanks to its reliable and efficient shipping, advanced engineering capacity, and its top-quality maritime research. The sector remains a high-cost economy but the sophistication and high quality of Japanese shipyards have ensured their status. Japan remains as of today the third largest shipping country after China and Greece. The country comprises 102 major ports, and 22 international strategic ports, or of international importance.

The most enduring obstacle for Japan’s maritime sector is its ageing workforce. Despite heavy government promotion, fewer young Japanese are opting for a maritime career, as a result of which foreigners comprise most of the people working in Japanese fleets. To ensure service quality, they are trained in establishments controlled by the companies themselves.

UNCTAD, Handbook Merchant Fleet, 2019
MLIT, Statistical Informations, 2021


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