Japan's giant shipbuilding industry is having to drastically reduce capacity as the only way of coping with the prolonged recession in world shipping.
GTV PAN OVER Dockyard TO empty berths
GV Ship under construction
SV Welders working on ship's decks (6 shots)
SV ZOOM OUT FROM Workers TO ship
GV ZOOM OUT SHOWING Empty dockyard (3 shots)
GV PAN FROM Ship TO empty streets
SV Ship workers leaving yard (3 shots)
A combination of factors have been responsible for the slump in the world's shipyards. The Arab oil embargo -- a result of the last Middle East war -- has been followed by the increase in theprice of petroleum exports. This hit the world tanker market and many shipyards faced a wholesale cancellation of orders. As countries cut back on oil imports, scores of tankers were laid up. The re-opening of the Suez Canal was a particular blow to supertankers, designed for the long and more costly voyage around Africa. Oil fleet owners switched many shipments, where possible, to smaller vessels that could pass through the Suez Canal. Some economic forecasters have suggested that with the world economy now reviving, shipbuilding will improve. But there is a global surplus of laid up tankers -- as well as many general cargo vessels.
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Background: Japan's giant shipbuilding industry is having to drastically reduce capacity as the only way of coping with the prolonged recession in world shipping.
SYNOPSIS: Shipyards in Yokohama and elsewhere have little work. Although some ships are being built, orders for large oil tankers, have been cancelled in the past six months. This has led to fears that the building rate for next year, may fall below 50 per cent of the peak reached in March 1974. Japan's shipbuilders expanded tremendously during the last decade. Expansion continued into the early '70's, and virtually every major shipyard built huge building docks.
During the boom years Japan had half the world's ship-building capacity. The country's Ship Exporters Association says they still have orders covering 49.1 per cent of the world's total demand in gross tonnage. However, that demand is now estimated at only 10,000,000 gross tons a year. For Japanese shipyards, this represents a huge cut back. 1973-1974, world demand was about 36,000,000 gross tons.
The outlook is gloomy too. The shipbuilders forecast that the world shipbuilding industry will not recover from the present crisis until well into the 1980's. There are 185,000 workers employed in Japan's shipbuilding industry. But, in a nation where mass dismissals or lay-offs are almost unheard of, employers are confronted with a massive problem of trying to keep their shipbuilding industry afloat.