Japan's non-main container ports serving regional areas in the country will probably become more important, and will handle more of Japan's container traffic in the coming years.
Tetsuo Oka, assistant secretary-general of the Japan Container Association, said these ports, often referred to as local ports, were increasing their share of Japan's container throughput, according to a Singapore Business Times report.
He was speaking on containerisation in Japan at the Container Asia 96 conference last week.
Mr Oka said the collective market share of 28 local ports grew from 3.1 to 3.7 per cent last year. With a total throughput of 0.63 million teu, they were still a long way from the 9.4 million teu handled by the country's eight main ports - Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Shimizu, Yokkaichi and Kita-kyushu.
'The containers handled by the local ports were expected to go up,' Mr Oka said.
Some of the 28 local ports, Hachinohe, Hososhima, Chiba, Imabari and Tsuruga, had between 100 and 300 per cent increases in their container throughputs last year. The total traffic at the 28 ports posted a significant jump of 34 per cent over the volume handled in 1994.
Mr Oka said there was a pattern shift in the volume of export containers produced by hinterlands.
Hinterlands of main ports - Tokyo Bay, Isle Bay and Osaka Bay - used to contribute a bigger portion of the traffic. The hinterlands of other ports had increased their contribution from 24.3 per cent in 1970 to 39.3 in 1993.
Mr Oka said the construction and improvement of facilities at local ports featured as one of the three main targets under the government's US$75 billion port development plan over the next five years.
Local ports have begun to attract more lines. Cho Yang Line started calling at Oita this year. Carrier Advance Container Lines also added outport Sendai as a stop in its intra-Asia service in March.