THE shift of European and Asian shipping services to the bigger, hi-tech container terminals kept the port of Yokohama at the forefront of Japan's port cities last year, for the 27th successive year.
According to Yokohama Port News , 68.24 million tonnes of foreign cargo, and 55.46 million tonnes of domestic cargo, passed through the port in the year.
The value of ocean-borne cargo came to more than US$81.43 billion, to top all Japanese ports.
Exports topped 31.97 million tonnes, an increase of three per cent, for a total value of $61.46 billion.
Imports were about 36.27 million tonnes, up 7.2 per cent, for a total of $19.97 billion.
Container freight volume was 31.59 million tonnes, topping the 30 million tonne mark for the first time.
Though the United States maintained its top position among both buyers and sellers, the increase in container trade with Europe, and especially Asia, was the main factor in Yokohama's performance, despite the general softness in the Japanese economy.
And this development, in turn, could be attributed to the move by international ship operators away from Tokyo's Oi Pier to Yokohama's Kaikoku and Honmoku terminals.
''This should enable us to make it into the world's big 10 in container volume,'' predicted Yokohama Port and Harbour Bureau director-general Kazunori Hosokawa.