• Kyodo

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Driven by strong sales of air conditioners, appliance shipments in terms of value reached their highest level in 22 years in 2018, an industry body said Monday.

The value, ¥2.45 trillion and up 4.1 percent from a year before, was also boosted by brisk sales of refrigerators and washing machines, according to the Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association.

It was the third year in a row that the annual figure grew. Except for April, monthly shipments in 2018 were higher than the same month a year before.

Due to last summer’s scorching heat, the volume of air conditioner shipments hit 9.65 million units, an all-time high since officials began compiling comparable data in 1972. The value increased 9.4 percent from a year before to ¥790.9 billion.

Japan was hit by a deadly heat wave last year, prompting the Meteorological Agency to declare a natural disaster. The temperature rose to a record 41.1 degrees in July.

“The 2018 market was firm, at a time when a huge increase in shipments of white goods appliances is hard to expect on the back of the country’s decreasing population,” an association official said.

Demand for high-priced large electrical home appliances continued to be robust. By product, refrigerators rose 3.3 percent to ¥437 billion and washing machines grew 6.1 percent to ¥347 billion.

While vacuum cleaners remained almost flat, the value of microwave and rice cooker shipments decreased.

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