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Japan

The Japanese government has called a fourth state of emergency for major cities as they continue to struggle to reduce the numbers of people newly infected with COVID and are unable to supply enough vaccines. As a result, no crowds will be allowed to attend the Olympic Games taking place in the Tokyo area.

Those Japanese industries not suffering directly from the pandemic are enjoying a dramatic upswing and are revising their financial results far higher.

Japan’s copper scrap exports fell to 36,950 tonnes in March following the peak of 58,829 tonnes in February, with industry players complaining of lower availability. Malaysia’s tightening of its import rules is leading to some cable scrap being returned to Japan. In response, Japanese customs have begun random inspections of ocean containers destined for Malaysia, forcing exporters to be more cautious in their handling of cable scrap.

The aluminium scrap market remains tight and competition continues to be severe. Expensive Chinese ADC12 is supporting local producers. Aluminium scrap shipments to China jumped to 15,623 tonnes in March, accounting for almost half of all Japanese exports. Domestic buyers are competing fiercely with exporters to secure scrap. Exporters are hesitant to ship even extrusions to China given the stricter inspections conducted even at the port of Sanshan.

Stainless steel exports reached 20,000 tonnes in May, with shipments to China jumping to 3801 tonnes. Exporters are aggressively sourcing scrap, supported by strong LME prices.