Import From Japan to Usa, Top Imports from Japan in 2023

Import From Japan to Usa

The Top Imports from Japan to the United States in 2023

As the world’s third largest economy, Japan is a major exporter of goods and services globally. For the United States, Japan represents the 4th largest source of imports after China, Mexico and Canada. Total imports from Japan exceeded $136 billion in 2022. Understanding the composition of Japanese imports provides insight into trade relations between the two allies.

Leading Categories of Imports from Japan

Over 75% of U.S. imports from Japan fall into three major categories:
  • Vehicles – At over $56 billion, motor vehicles and parts represent the largest Japanese import category. Major brands include Toyota, Honda and Subaru.
  • Machinery – Industrial machinery used in manufacturing, construction and mining accounts for around $26 billion in Japanese imports annually.
  • Optics & Medical Equipment – Goods like microscopes, endoscopes and medical imaging equipment represent over $20 billion in annual Japanese imports.

Other significant imports include electrical gear, measurement equipment, plastic products, organic chemicals and consumer electronics. While Japan was once dominant in electronics, imports have shifted toward industrial and commercial goods.

Trends in U.S.-Japan Trade

For many decades Japan enjoyed a sizeable trade surplus with the United States as its export oriented economy flooded America with cars and consumer electronics. However, U.S. exports to Japan have grown in recent years while Japanese imports have moderated.

In the 1990s, the U.S. trade deficit with Japan routinely exceeded $50 billion annually. But by 2022 bilateral trade was almost balanced as the deficit declined to just $2.8 billion. Japan still enjoys surpluses in categories like vehicles and machinery but overall two-way trade is more equitable.

Partners in Global Commerce

While trade imbalances have shrunk, the United States and Japan remain vitally important economic partners. Each represents a major market for the other’s companies in sectors like medical technology, digital services, travel and tourism, entertainment and agriculture.

Shared interests in protecting intellectual property rights and resisting unfair trade practices by certain nations make the U.S. and Japan natural allies. Ongoing negotiations for deeper trade partnerships demonstrate the common view that open, rules-based trade stimulates prosperity. For individual companies, tapping trade synergies between the 3rd and 4th largest economies globally generates major opportunities.

Imports Fill Key Needs

Many Japanese imports provide key inputs for American industry or items not readily available from domestic firms. For example, specialty steels and components from Japan support U.S. manufacturing in autos, aerospace and construction machinery. In optics and sensors, Japanese firms lead the world in precision and innovation.

While Japan’s share has declined, imports of vehicles remain substantial as models from Toyota, Honda and others are very popular with American consumers. Pharmaceutical ingredients and equipment imports also fill important health care needs.

For Japan, exporting high-value goods to the sizable U.S. market represents an important growth avenue as its own population ages. Maintaining access and strong relationships with American buyers is a priority for Japanese firms.

Navigating a Complex Trade Relationship

Given Japan’s specialized industrial strengths and operating nuances, partnering with experienced trade experts is crucial for U.S. firms importing goods or exporting to Japan. Key considerations include:

  • Cultural etiquette and Japanese business norms
  • Distribution complexities within Japan
  • Financing terms and currency risks
  • Quality expectations and standards
  • Language barriers and brand positioning
  • Legal policies and intellectual property protection

Consult qualified Japan trade advisors to build a robust market entry strategy and unlock the potential of this strategic trade relationship.

The Value of U.S. Imports from Japan

In the 1980s and 1990s, the United States imported over $100 billion in goods annually from Japan, largely comprised of cars, electronics and machinery. However, as production shifted and Japan faced economic headwinds, U.S. imports moderated. According to data from the U.S. International Trade Commission, total Japanese imports dropped from a peak of $128 billion in 1996 to $69 billion in 2009.

Imports from Japan have rebounded over the past decade thanks to stronger economic ties between the two countries. The U.S. imported $136 billion in Japanese goods in 2022 reports the U.S. Census Bureau. Vehicles and parts accounted for $56 billion of imports, followed by capital goods like machinery and optics. While below peak levels, Japan remains a top import source for the U.S.

Leading Japanese Exports to U.S.

In the 1980s, Japan enjoyed massive trade surpluses with the U.S. as companies like Sony, Toyota and Panasonic exported consumer electronics, vehicles and appliances to American consumers. However, recessionary pressures and competition from China caused Japan’s export orientation to falter reports the Congressional Research Service.

Today’s Japanese exports to the U.S. are increasingly focused on advanced manufactured goods. According to 2022 data from the International Trade Centre, leading exports are passenger vehicles ($54 billion), automotive parts ($10 billion), excavation machinery ($7 billion), pneumatic rubber tires ($5 billion) and transmission equipment ($4 billion).

Food & Agricultural Imports

While not a main import category overall, food and agricultural products represent a growth area of Japanese exports to the United States. According to the USDA, leading agricultural imports from Japan include snack foods ($280 million), processed fruits & vegetables ($200 million), fish products ($190 million) and seasonings like soy sauce ($130 million).

Food imports from Japan grew over 20% by value from 2017 to 2021 reveals USDA data. This reflects rising U.S. demand for authentic Japanese foods, especially from specialty grocery retailers. For Japanese producers, exporting processed foods allows reaching new overseas markets.


Essential Topics You Should Be Familiar With:

  1. import from japan to usa
  2. import from japan to canada
  3. import to usa from india
  4. import from mexico to usa
  5. import from usa to canada
  6. import to usa
  7. how to import to usa
  8. import costs from usa
  9. import meat to usa
  10. importing from china to usa
Scroll to Top