Top exports in Japan worth your investment

One of the major parts of the world economy is the import and export of goods. In order for a country to be well connected, it needs to produce goods and export them, as well as import goods that it has needs of. This is why a lot of people in Japan invest in exporting goods. Japan has always been a mass producer when it comes to technology, but there are other things which are plentiful here. This is why a huge part of the Japanese economy focuses on exporting goods. For example, in 2017, Japan shipped $698.2 billion worth of goods internationally. This is an 8.3% increase when compared to 2016, so the number is still at an incline. But what should you invest in? Well, in this article, we talk about the top exports in Japan that you should look into – both big and small package freight included.

Top exports in Japan

Machinery - one of the top exports in Japan.
Machinery is one of the top exports in Japan.

First, let’s take a look at the actual list of top exports in Japan that you can invest in. These are the highest dollar value groups when looking at the Japanese global shipments during 2017. The percentage next to these numbers is the share that each of the export categories has when looking at the overall Japan export.

  • Vehicles – $146.2 billion (20.9%)
  • Machinery including computers – $138.4 billion (19.8%)
  • Electrical machinery and equipment – $105.6 billion (15.1%)
  • Various apparatus (optical, technical, medical) – $39.8 billion (5.7%)
  • Iron and steel – $28 billion (4%)
  • Plastics and plastic articles – $25.1 billion (3.6%)
  • Organic chemicals – $17.9 billion (2.6%)
  • Gems and precious metals – $15.2 billion (2.2%)
  • Boats and ships – $12.3 billion (1.8%)
  • Mineral fuels (including oil) – $11.4 billion (1.6%)

These were the results of a research done by World’s top exports. They also found that these 10 exports are taking up over 77% of the overall Japanese global shipments’ value.

Where to find partners for the top exports in Japan

The next thing you need to figure out is who to work with. Shipping, by definition, needs another country that is in need of the goods you want to export from Japan after storing them in a reliable warehouse Japan. This is why we need to look into the countries that love doing business with Japan. Luckily, these aren’t hard to find. In recent years, Japan has turned away from the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and towards the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

The difference between Economic Partnership Agreements and Free Trade Agreements

Hands with the world map painted on them.
The global trade gives you the world on the palm of your hand.

You may ask what the difference between the two is, and this may not be simple to answer. In short, FTA is an international treaty that aims to eliminate tariffs between countries or regions. Another goal of the FTA is to abolish regulation in the field of foreign investments when it comes to trade in services. On the other hand, an EPA is an international treaty that aims to deregulate regulations for investments, as well as for immigration control. It also covers the bases that an FTA does.

What this means is is that the contents of an FTA are also a big part of an EPA, but the latter doesn’t end there. An Economic Partnership Agreement may also have bonuses – like free movement of goods and/or people, or transfer of innovation.

Best partners for top exports in Japan

To conclude, we are looking at the countries that Japan has negotiated an EPA with. These are India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, Mexico, and Chile. As you can tell, a lot of these countries are in Asia. Over half (57.3% to be exact) of Japanese exports stays in Asia. There is also 23.1% that goes to North America, and finally, only 13% gets to Europe.

However, when it comes to the countries who are Japans bigger export partners, the list changes. The first place belongs to the United States (20%), the second to China (17.5%) and the third to South Korea (7.1%). After that, there are also Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany, Australia, Netherlands, and Vietnam, as well as Indonesia and Malaysia.

How to export cargo overseas

A cargo ship.
Decide how you will export goods.

So now that we have found the top exports in Japan and the countries you can work with, let us look at the process of actually exporting the goods. First, you need to find a reliable freight forwarding company. These will be your biggest partners, and they will help you with everything you need to know. Then, you need to decide with them on the method of transport. Exporting from Japan usually means you will either go for sea or air transport. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages, so make sure you research them carefully before making your decision.

Then, you need to figure out the proper paperwork for your method of transport, as well as Incoterms. These clarify what you and your partner (buyer) need to do – what your rights and obligations are. There is a lot of information on these online, so make sure you do thorough research.

Finally, you will need to pack, label and insure your goods. This needs to be done properly, so it is better to find a good freight forwarding company that will help you with this. Otherwise, shipments can get damaged and lost, and your company will suffer from it.


To conclude, there are a lot of things you need to think about when looking into exporting from Japan. First, you need to take a look at the top exports in Japan and see what your company can do. Then, you need to figure out who your partners will be. For this, you need a deep look into the global market. Finally, you will need to find a good freight forwarding company – someone who can do everything – from handling exhibition cargo to forwarding cars and vehicles. Once you find a partner, the work should be easier.

Keep in mind that exporting goods is never easy. It is not only finding the top exports in Japan – you need to do a lot of logistics and networking. Calculate your risks well before venturing into businesses like this. Another thing that will come with this process is stress. However, you can deal with this by finding goods partners – the freight forwarders.

©2024 Kokusai Express - All Rights Are Reserved · Powered by Movers Development