The 100 most valuable consumer products imported into Japan in 2020 attracted a subtotal US$264.5 billion worth of international spending. That dollar amount represents 41.7% of the overall value of all Japanese imported goods ($634.7 billion).
The 5 most valuable consumer products imported into Japan during 2020 were phones, computers, medications, coal and processed petroleum oils.
The total dollar amount for the Land of the Rising Sun’s top 100 imported consumer products declined by -6.5% from 2019 to 2020, compared to a -12% drop for all Japanese imported goods for the year.
Japan’s overall purchases of imported products dropped at a faster pace than the global average decline of -8.2% from 2019 to 2020 for all importing countries. In contrast, Japanese imports of consumer goods decreased at a slower pace.
Among the top 100 consumer products imported by the island country called “Nihon” by locals, 24 increased in total value from 2019 to 2020 whereas 76 declined.
Changes in Japanese consumer demand for essential imports offer future opportunities for international suppliers who correctly anticipate which upward or downward trends will continue.
Consumer Products Defined
Economics educator BoyceWire defines a consumer product as a final good or end product that a business creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while imported crude oil is an intermediate good subject to further processing before being sold to end users.
Although there may be a few wealthy individual buyers, products like turbojets are excluded from the consumer products targeted by this study. That is because turbojets are usually purchased by corporations. In contrast, it is common for a consumer to buy a motorcycle.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types.
Convenience Products are easy to access, non-durable, have relatively lower prices and therefore consumers frequently purchase them. Examples of convenience products are food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and soap.
Shopping Products are not as easily available, involve more time to make a buying decision, are durable and are not bought as often as most convenience products. A great example of a shopping product is a mobile phone where buying the wrong model is a much more expensive mistake than buying a disappointing loaf of bread.
Specialty Products describe another consumer product type. This grey area includes infrequently purchased, expensive, durable and sometimes rare items. Consumers may consider the product’s brand image when making their purchase decisions. Some examples of speciality products are gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, and branded refrigerators and dishwashers.
Japanese Consumer Imports Smart List
The searchable marketing intelligence table below showcases Japan’s 100 highest-value imported consumer products in descending order. Items were selected at the four-digit Harmonized System tariff classification code level.
The table’s fourth column is labeled YOY for year over year. The fifth column identifies each entry’s consumer product type.
|2||Computers, optical readers||$19,636,817,000||+13.6%||SP|
|4||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$15,948,045,000||-31.4%||CP|
|5||Processed petroleum oils||$11,038,583,000||-16.1%||CP|
|9||Miscellaneous textile items||$5,256,597,000||+277.7%||SP|
|10||Cases, handbags, wallets||$4,734,863,000||-19.8%||SP|
|12||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$4,018,165,000||-12.5%||SP|
|13||Miscellaneous plastic items||$3,787,882,000||+13.2%||CP|
|16||Electrical converters/power units||$3,265,881,000||+2.2%||SP|
|17||Fish fillets, pieces||$3,092,649,000||-11.7%||CP|
|19||Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)||$3,052,448,000||-3.6%||CP|
|21||Women's clothing (not knit/crochet)||$2,973,449,000||-16.6%||SP|
|23||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$2,757,890,000||-4.7%||SP|
|24||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$2,727,145,000||-8.5%||SP|
|25||Whole fish (frozen)||$2,692,425,000||-12.0%||CP|
|27||Computer parts, accessories||$2,426,538,000||-23.0%||SP|
|29||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$2,255,074,000||+0.8%||SY|
|31||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$2,146,394,000||-11.6%||SP|
|32||Men's suits (unknit/non-crochet)||$2,131,151,000||-17.4%||SP|
|33||Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust||$2,115,169,000||-20.4%||CP|
|34||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$2,050,078,000||-10.7%||SP|
|35||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,035,481,000||-8.9%||CP|
|36||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$1,970,299,000||-14.3%||CP|
|37||Fresh or chilled beef||$1,961,729,000||-7.7%||CP|
|38||Video console games, table games||$1,886,482,000||+9.6%||SP|
|39||Electric storage batteries||$1,858,473,000||-2.0%||CP|
|41||Wrist/pocket watches (regular case)||$1,621,737,000||-23.4%||SP|
|42||Unrecorded sound media||$1,590,539,000||+1.7%||SP|
|43||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$1,568,085,000||-11.9%||CP|
|47||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,463,329,000||-10.4%||SP|
|54||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$1,335,224,000||-13.7%||SP|
|55||Crustaceans, molluscs (preserved/prepared)||$1,294,853,000||-10.2%||CP|
|57||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$1,259,320,000||-16.2%||SP|
|62||Women's coats (unknit/non-crochet)||$1,104,203,000||-27.1%||SP|
|64||Rubber tires (new)||$1,061,104,000||-14.5%||SP|
|68||Men's coats (unknit/non-crochet)||$1,003,761,000||-24.6%||SP|
|71||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$979,561,000||+11.4%||CP|
|73||Red meat offal||$965,438,000||-1.4%||CP|
|74||Other food preparations||$960,314,000||-4.8%||CP|
|75||Packaged insecticides, herbicides||$953,354,000||+92.2%||SP|
|77||Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items||$930,423,000||-24.4%||SP|
|78||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$891,269,000||-21.6%||SY|
|79||Women's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$846,349,000||-16.6%||SP|
|80||Bras, corsets (unknit/non-crochet)||$845,431,000||-2.9%||SP|
|81||Electromechanic domestic appliances||$823,413,000||+16.5%||SY|
|82||Vulcanized rubber apparel/accessory||$822,713,000||+67.9%||SP|
|83||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$784,111,000||-18.5%||SP|
|84||Stockings, hosiery (knit or crochet)||$774,247,000||-19.5%||SP|
|86||Vulcanized rubber items||$762,662,000||-11.0%||SP|
|87||Prepared vegetables (frozen)||$736,319,000||-7.6%||CP|
|88||Household base metal mountings||$728,262,000||-7.7%||SY|
|89||Men's shirts (not knit or crochet)||$719,577,000||-20.2%||SP|
|90||Prepared vegetables (non-frozen)||$708,138,000||-0.4%||CP|
|91||Other printed pictures, photos||$689,901,000||+1.4%||SY|
|92||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$675,150,000||-17.4%||CP|
|93||Felt or other non-woven garments||$673,757,000||+35.4%||SP|
|94||Fruit and vegetable juices||$651,443,000||-6.0%||CP|
|95||Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles||$647,257,000||-1.8%||SP|
|96||Plastic wares (table, kitchen, toiletry)||$633,148,000||-1.3%||CP|
|97||Other pharmaceutical preparations||$631,696,000||-9.0%||SP|
|98||Women's blouses (knitted/crocheted)||$627,947,000||-9.8%||SP|
|99||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$578,663,000||-2.6%||CP|
|100||Miscellaneous wooden articles||$572,295,000||-3.6%||SP|
The most popular product type is shopping products (SP) led by phones, computers, cars, insulated wire or cable and automobile parts or accessories. Shopping products represent one half (50) of Japan’s top 100 imported consumer goods.
In second place via 36 entries are convenience products (CP) led by medications, coal, processed petroleum oils, pork, miscellaneous plastic items and corn.
There were 14 speciality products (SY). Examples of speciality products are Japanese imports of air conditioners, jewelry, beauty and skincare goods, silver, and miscellaneous printed pictures or photos.
Durable consumer products are goods like cars, trucks, printing machinery, insulated wire or cable, and furniture that last a relatively long time. Consumers can put durable products to use again and again. By product type, note that both shopping products and speciality products are considered as durable consumer goods.
Non-durable consumer products (ND) are goods that are not re-used once consumed. Coal, medications and sugar are examples of non-durable goods. Convenience products are uniquely non-durable consumer products.
Based on the product types identified in the above table, 64 of Japan’s highest-value consumer imported products are durable while 36 are classified as non-durable.
You can also peruse the greatest increases or decreases in product values from 2019 to 2020. To do so, click on the heading of the fourth column.
Fastest-Growing Consumer Imports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products imported into Japan that experienced the highest percentage increases in spending from 2019 to 2020.
- Miscellaneous textile items: Up 277.7% ($5.3 billion)
- Packaged insecticides, herbicides: Up 92.2% ($953.4 million)
- Vulcanized rubber clothing and accessories: Up 67.9% ($822.7 million)
- Garments made from felt or other non-woven materials: Up 35.4% ($673.8 million)
- Silver (unwrought): Up 34.5% ($1.2 billion)
- Electromechanic domestic appliances: Up 16.5% ($823.4 million)
- Motorcycles: Up 14.1% ($762.8 million)
- Computers including optical readers: Up 13.6% ($3 billion)
- Miscellaneous plastic items: Up 13.2% ($3.8 billion)
- Miscellaneous preserved fruits: Up 11.4% ($979.6 million)
Among the above top gainers, 8 items are durable goods that consumers can re-use over time. Seven of those durable items are shopping products like miscellaneous textile items and packaged insecticides or herbicides. The lone exception is silver, a speciality good that is also considered durable. Shopping and speciality products typically require a comparatively longer time to make a buying decision compared to convenience products.
The fastest-growing convenience products are 2 other goods, namely miscellaneous plastic and preserved fruits. Consumers consider these items as non-durable products, commonly referred to as disposable goods and therefore are used only once.
Worst-Declining Consumer Imports
Japan’s spending on the following 10 items decreased at the greatest pace from 2019 to 2020.
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: Down -31.4% ($15.9 billion)
- Unknitted/non-crocheted women’s coats: Down -27.1% ($1.1 billion)
- Unknitted/non-crocheted men’s coats: Down -24.6% ($1 billion)
- Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items: Down -24.4% ($930.4 million)
- Wrist or pocket watches with regular case: Down -23.4% ($1.6 billion)
- Computer parts or accessories: Down -23.4% ($2.4 billion)
- Automobile parts or accessories: Down -22.8% ($6.3 billion)
- Jewelry: Down -22.5% ($1.6 billion)
- Liquid crystal, laser or optical tools: Down -21.6% ($891.3 million)
- Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust: Down -20.4% ($2.1 billion)
Two among the Japan’s top 10 declining imports are non-durable convenience products consumed one time, specifically coal, and fuel wood, wood chips and sawdust.
Six among the remaining major import decliners are shopping products that normally require more time for consumers to make buying decisions. Purchases under the shopping products category are more likely to be deferred than convenience products. Examples of these shopping goods are unknitted and non-crocheted men’s or women’s coats and computer parts or accessories. The 2 speciality products are jewelry and liquid crystal, laser or optical tools. .
The remaining 4 import decliners are shopping products that normally require more time for shoppers to make buying decisions, notably footwear. Purchases under the shopping products category are more likely to be deferred than convenience products.
Key Suppliers by Country
This analysis reveals competitive suppliers that target Japan’s demand for its top 5 consumer import products.
Japan’s biggest imported consumer product by value is mobile phones. Japan’s 4 other leading consumer imports are computers, medications, coal, and processed petroleum oils.
Below, you will find major supplying countries for Japan’s imported:
Mobile phones: China (72% of total), Vietnam (8.2%), Thailand (6.8%), Taiwan (2.5%), Malaysia (2.5%), United States (2%), South Korea (1.7%), Mexico (1.2%), Italy (0.5%), and Czech Republic (0.4%).
Computers: China (80.9% of total), United States (4.7%), Taiwan (3.1%), Singapore (2.8%), Thailand (2.2%), Mexico (1.6%), Philippines (0.9%), Malaysia (0.7%), South Korea (0.5%), and Germany (0.4%).
Medications: United States (18.3% of total), Germany (14.2%), Switzerland (9.8%), Singapore (6.9%), Sweden (6.3%), Canada (6.2%), France (6.2%), Ireland (5.5%), United Kingdom (4.7%), and Denmark (4.6%).
Coal: Australia (60.1% of total), Indonesia (13.3%), Russia (11.5%), Canada (6.7%), United States (6.4%), China (0.8%), Colombia (0.5%), Vietnam (0.3%), New Zealand (0.3%), and Mozambique (0.1%).
Processed petroleum oils: South Korea (25.3% of total), Qatar (16.3%), United Arab Emirates (11.8%), United States (6.5%), India (5.6%), Kuwait (4.9%), Russia (3.7%), Saudi Arabia (3.5%), China (3.3%), and Bahrain (2.4%).
More great research: Japan’s Main Imports by Top Supplier Countries, China’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, South Africa’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, US Top 100 Imported Consumer Products
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: Japan Economy.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Investopedia, Consumer Goods, Consumer Staples Definition, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).
Trading Economics, Japan Consumer Spending.
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets.
World’s Top Exports, Japan’s Top 10 Imports.