Japan 2 biggest shipbuilders launch new venture

Japan's two biggest shipbuilders have launched a joint venture in a bid to regain the country's competitive edge.

Imabari Shipbuilding and Japan Marine United set up Nihon Shipyard on January 1.

The president of the new firm, Maeta Yoshinori, told reporters on Wednesday that Imabari and JMU both recognize the need to win in global competition.

He said the two shipbuilders aim to produce maximum benefits through the alliance and make the most of each other's qualities. Nihon Shipyard plans to design eco-friendly ships that emit less greenhouse gas.

Japanese shipbuilders used to command the world's biggest market share. But they now rank number 3, lagging state-backed industries in China and South Korea.

The Japanese government is preparing a bill to support domestic shipbuilders. Measures include long-term loans, tax breaks for setting up new ventures, and subsidies for technological development.