Japan’s food exports reach new record highs with beef and sake sales booming

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Japan's beef export jumped nearly 30% last year. © Pixabay
Japan's beef export jumped nearly 30% last year. © Pixabay

Related tags Export Beef Agriculture

Japan’s food exports enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2018, with sharp increase seen in beef and sake exports.

As a whole, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries exports rose 12.4% YoY to reach JYP$906.8bn (US$8.3bn), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) said during a press conference.

With the stellar performance last year, the ministry believes that the aim of achieving JYP$1tr​ (US$9bn) this year is at hand.

"To achieve the 1 trillion yen goal, we need an annual growth of more than 10%. By supporting producers of export items, we'll strive to meet the target,"​ MAFF minister Takamori Yoshikawa said during the press conference.

Export of sake grew 19% YoY to hit JYP$22.2bn (US$200m), exceeding JPY$20bn for the first time in 18 years.

Top sake export destinations goes to the US at JYP$6.3bn (US$57m), followed by Hong Kong then China, while the growth in demand was highest in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Significant growth was also seen in beef export, growing 29.1% to reach an export figure of JYP$24.7bn (US$223m).

Alleviating nuclear fears

While food exports continue to rise steadily, the Japanese government pointed out that the impact of nuclear radiation on food products remained a concern for some countries.

As such, this calls for the need to gather information and scientific data needed for intergovernmental negotiations to mitigate and abolish export ban.

Also, field visits to agricultural sites will be held and foreign government regulatory administrators will be invited to join the trips.

Last month, Masao Uchibori, the governor of Fukushima prefecture, visited to Hong Kong in hopes of convincing local authorities to lift the ban on food imports originating from the region hard-hit by 2011 nuclear disaster.

During the trip, he promoted the prefecture’s key exports, such as peaches and sake.

"Revitalisation in Fukushima is in progress. I am coming to promote the safety and quality of Fukushima food to correct any misinformation,"​ he told local media NNA Japan.

The trip seemingly ended on a disappointing note, as he concluded that the country’s perceptions and worries about Fukushima’s products remain deep-rooted.

As for Taiwan, which maintained an import ban​ on Japan’s nuclear-hit regions after 78% of the Taiwanese voted in favour of the ban during a referendum last November, new developments have surfaced.

According to a report by Taipei Times​, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association Deputy Secretary-General Hsieh Bor-huei recently said that Taiwan was considering screening certain food products imported from Japan’s nuclear disaster-affected areas, instead of imposing a blanket ban.

This development comes as Taiwan seeks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a Japanese-led international economic bloc. 

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