Japan’s Top Commodity Imports & Exports

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Overview of the Japanese Economy

Japan is a significant export economy and exports in excess of $600 billion of goods annually, making it the fourth largest export economy in the world.

The country has managed to demonstrate average annual export growth of just over 3% for five consecutive years and the IMF World Economic Outlook predicts that Japan is benefitting from an accelerating global economic recovery with projected Real GDP growth likely to continue to grow by 1.5% per annum.

Japan enjoys a positive trade balance of over $20 billion and GDP per capita is currently running at more than $41K.

Japan's Top 5 Commodity Exports

CommodityAmount (Annually)
Gold$7.11 billion
Refined Petroleum$7.47 billion
Silver$926 million
Copper$2.39 billion
Steel$4.17 billion

Japan’s Other Notable Exports

  • Cars – $90.3 billion
  • Vehicle Parts – $31.3 billion
  • Integrated Circuits – $18.8 billion

Japan’s Top 5 Commodity Imports

CommodityAmount (Annually)
Crude Petroleum$50.8 billion
Copper$7.3 billion
Iron Ore$7.35 billion
Corn$3.07 billion

Japan imports a total of $583 billion of goods annually making it the fifth largest importer in the world.

Japan’s Other Notable Imports

  • Computers – $15.5 billion
  • Broadcasting Equipment – $15.2 billion
  • Cars – $10.3 billion
  • Integrated Circuits – $8.8 billion
  • Packaged Medicaments – $17 billion

Did you know? Japan imports about $1.9 billion of models and stuffed animals each year.

Japan’s Top 5 Export Destinations

  • United States – $130 billion
  • China – $113 billion
  • South Korea – $46.2 billion
  • Hong Kong – $33.6 billion
  • Thailand – $27.4 billion

More Information on Japan’s Imports/Exports


The United Kingdom is the biggest gold export destination for Japan with 36% of their output (worth $2.58 billion annually) heading there.

Japan is ranked 9th in the global gold export league table and accounts for 2.3% of world gold exports. Switzerland leads by some margin with 25.3% of the market share (worth $82 billion).

Refined Petroleum

Global refined petroleum exports are in excess of $504 billion each year and Japan ranks 19th in the league table of exporters.

JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation is a dominant force in the refining industry in Japan, with the highest market share in the country.

Forecasts predict Japan’s overall refining capacity will increase by 5% over the next five years.


Japan is the fifth largest global exporter of silver with a market share of 7.9%, compared to Mexico, who is the largest silver exporting country at 10.4%.

Amongst the 15 leading silver exporters, only China has managed to increase the value of its annual silver exports in the last five years.


Japan has a 6.3% market share of global copper exports, just behind the USA with 6.8%, but Germany dominates with a 20% total share of the worldwide export market.

The biggest copper mine in the world is part-owned by Japan Escondida who has a 12.5% holding, alongside BHP Billiton (57.5%) and Rio Tinto Corp (30%). The mine accounts for 5% of all the world’s copper supply.


According to World Steel Association figures, Japan is the 2nd largest steel producer with an annual output of approximately 105 million metric tons. However, this is moderate compared to China who is the dominant exporter with an annual output of around 800 million metric tons.

Japan’s exports represent about 9% of all steel exported globally.

The country exports steel to more than 190 countries and territories.

A Few Interesting Facts

  1. Japan’s government is a unitary parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy, which means they have both an Emperor and a Prime Minister running the country.
  2. Manufacturing and Communication are Japan’s major industries. This is because the hilly and rugged land does not lend itself to agricultural production.
  3. Japanese people consume more fish than any other country in the world and their fishermen enjoy good incomes.

All figures based on OEC/IMF 2016 projections unless otherwise stated.

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