Bangladesh clothing exports to Japan are increasing and could hit US$1bn in value in the next 12 months, due to capacity and product quality increases, a senior government official has told just-style.

"Japanese buyers are increasingly showing interest to source our apparel items. They used to import from China," Shubhashish Bose, vice-chairman of the state-linked Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), said, noting it had dovetailed with Tokyo's 'China-Plus One' import diversification strategy.

"Our capacity has increased. Even high-end garment items enter the Japanese market," he said.

Bangladesh garment exports to Japan surged 37% to US$297m in July to December 2013, up from US$216m in the same period a year ago, the EPB data revealed. Shipments of apparel to Japan rose to US$478.48m in the last (2012) fiscal year.

Mohammed Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told just-style competitive price, capacity and product quality are helping textile and clothing manufacturers boost exports to Japan.

He added that Bangladesh's duty-free access to the Japanese market has also helped boost exports. "The exports will also go up in the near future," he predicted.

"It's not like the US or Europe, but the Japanese market has huge potential," said Fazlul Hoque, a former president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

Hoque noted that Bangladesh's shipment of garment products to Japan had turned around after the country's economy suffered in the wake of its 2011 earthquake and associated tsunami and nuclear accident.