In the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, the country’s PVC exports dropped because several plants at Kashima were shut. Just after the disaster, Japan, one of Asia's largest PVC exporters, imported around 10,000 mt of PVC from Taiwan, South Korea and the US, as per Platts. According to the Vinyl Environmental Council, Japan's PVC exports in 2011 were 427,070 mt, down 35.3% from 2010. However, market sources attribute the drop in 2011 exports not only to the earthquake, but also to the strong yen, which made Japan-origin PVC less competitive. Market sources said Japan's PVC demand for reconstruction would likely limit exports in 2012. But VEC data showed that domestic PVC demand in 2011 was 1.039 million mt, ticking up a mere 0.7% from 2010.
Reconstruction work in the quake-hit area has been slow, with rubble still being cleared out in early 2012. If reconstruction work goes ahead in full steam in 2012, it could mean that PVC output would be diverted from exports for more domestic use, as PVC is widely used in the construction industry to make pipes, window frames and walls.