The U.S. Grains Council’s 2011 Corn Mission to Japan, China and Vietnam toured the Kushiro Port in Hokkaido, Japan, and heard firsthand the plans to expand the port’s capacity to accommodate larger vessels.
Kushiro is the largest port facility in the heart of Japan's major dairy producing area – Hokkaido, Japan.
The Director of the Kushiro Port Office for Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Dr. Tetsuya Hayakawa explained to the group that the port was selected in June by MLIT as one of the eight ports designated to undergo a massive expansion in an effort to remain competitive internationally. While Japan can accept the capsize or the post-panamax vessels expected with the expansion of the Panama Canal, this initiative will contribute greatly to Japan's ability to handle larger ships with a faster distribution process.
Mission participant Tom Mueller, from the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, said the visit was a worthwhile and vital interaction as the expansion of the port will help to increase Japan's grain import capacity at a competitive price.
"Japan is our number one market for corn," Mueller said."This expansion and work to accommodate the larger vessels will help to ensure that Japan will continue to be a reliable customer. At the same time, it will help to reduce transportation costs, and positively attribute to Japan’s ability to remain competitive."The USGC Corn Mission to Asia has representatives of nine Corn Belt state corn organizations spending two weeks in China, Japan and Vietnam.