Japan is one of the world’s largest importers of tropical timber, sourcing this timber largely from neighbouring countries in Asia. It also imports a significant volume of illegal timber, although this is estimated to have fallen since the turn of the century.
The government has been engaged on the issue of illegal logging and related trade, but its approach has been focused on voluntary measures rather than establishing legally binding requirements. It has been actively promoting the country’s legality verification system, known as the goho-wood system. This is helping to raise awareness of the issue of illegal logging in the country, but because the system is voluntary and has design weaknesses, its ability to exclude illegal products from Japan’s market is limited (Chatham House, 2014).