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Japan International Boat Show Weighs Anchor

March 7 – Yokohama – Japan’s biggest marine industry event kicked off Thursday, highlighting the latest in boat technology and watercraft.

Nissan Marine’s latest Suncat, debuting at the Yokohama show, has been dubbed a “cubic sedan”, a fishing catamaran with ties to the road.

“Nissan Marine has about a 40-year history, and at this year’s show our eye-grabbing product is this Suncat 245,” said Satoru Honda, director of Nissan Marine.

Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga says his own start with Nissan was in its sea business, while he remains a licensed pilot.

“Nissan’s marine business has a very long history. Actually, when I joined Nissan I worked for the Marine department at that time,” he said.

“There are many marine sports fans, not only for pleasure boats but also for the fishing boats. I think marine sports is a good opportunity for Nissan.”

The annual Japanese boating show drew 35,000 last year, and even more are expected in 2013 at the indoor fair and outdoor Yokohama marina.

Japan’s boating industry association formed over 40 years ago and now boasts more than 100 full and associate corporate members.

“Unfortunately, there was a disaster in Tohoku with an earthquake and tsunami two years ago. Since then, the market is recovering and especially since the end of last year and the new government – ‘Abe-nomics’, the market is coming back,” said Masato Adachi, executive general manager of Yamaha Motor’s Boat Business Unit.

Overseas, signs of steady marine industry growth are emerging, with a 10% rise in new U.S. powerboat sales last year.

GE Capital Commercial Distribution Finance surveyed the U.S. marine sports industry in February and over 40% expected 5 to 10% growth this year, while GE Capital itself predicted 8% growth.

Aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, as well as recreational craft are expected to be the top three sellers in a market estimated to have 83 million enthusiasts.

Japan, with a population of 127 million, is a smaller port of call, but the Yokohama show is hoped to provide a favorable tailwind for the industry.

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