Japan’s two largest shipbuilders, Imabari Shipbuilding and Japan Marine United (JMU), have launched a joint venture, Nihon Shipyard.

According to the deal, which was finalised in December 2019, Imabari will hold a 51% stake in the JV, while the remaining stake will be held by JMU in the new company.

The intended capital will total ¥100m ($965,000).

Established on 1 January 2021, Nihon Shipyard Co was planning to commence operations on 1 October 2020.

In September 2020, it was reported that the joint venture plan was put on hold due to coronavirus pandemic and prolonged legal procedures.

At a press conference, Nihon Shipyard president Maeta Yoshinori said that both companies understand the need to compete and win in a tough global market.

He also said that through the alliance, both firms will leverage each other’s strengths.

Tokyo-based Nihon Shipyard will build eco-friendly vessels and will have nearly 500 employees assigned from both companies.

Under the JV framework, both firms will collaborate in the manufacture of blocks and outfittings for all merchant vessels, excluding liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers.

The business will also include offshore wind-related equipment constructed by Imabari and JMU.

In order to support the domestic shipbuilders, the Japanese Government is currently working on a bill that includes measures such as long-term loans, subsidies for technological development, and tax breaks.

In August 2020, Imabari Shipbuilding Group’s Tadotsu Shipyard commenced the construction of a new LNG-fuelled car carrier for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line).

The vessel was delivered by the end of 2020.