Series: Understanding Japan through Key Words (Part 12)
Plan to Double Food Exports
Plan to Double Food Exports
The government is advancing a plan to double exports of Japanese food products-more specifically, to double export value from 449.7 billion yen in 2012 to one trillion yen in 2020 when Japan hosts the Tokyo Olympics. With a declining population and little likelihood of consumption growth over the medium- to long-term, the idea is to broaden sales channels to those Asian, US and European markets with better growth prospects as a means of stimulating regional economies where agriculture, forestry and fisheries are the primary industries.
Food and agricultural, forestry and fishing products made in Japan are extremely popular around the world for their safety, reliability and taste. Exports have been steadily increasing, particularly to the US and Asian markets, and the possibility has even been raised that the one trillion yen goal could be reached ahead of time.
Japanese food exports have achieved record growth for the last two years, rising more than 20 percent year on year to 550.5 billion yen in 2013 and again by double figures in 2014 to 611.7 billion yen. While there was a brief lull due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the reputational damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident, the combined export promotion efforts of the government and the private sector appear to have borne fruit. In 2015 too, the total for January through April was 234.6 billion yen, more than 25 percent up on the same period the previous year, demonstrating ongoing robustness.
Looking at the 2014 export performance by destination, Hong Kong was Japan's biggest market, accounting for more than 20 percent at 134.3 billion yen. Hong Kong was followed by the US (93.2 billion yen), Taiwan (83.7 billion yen) and China (62.2 billion yen), with the bulk of exports going to Asia.
To reach its goal of one trillion yen in exports by 2020, the government has set export goals for individual products: 350 billion yen for scallops and other marine products compared to the 170 billion yen achieved in 2012), 500 billion yen for processed foods (130 billion yen in 2012), 60 billion yen for rice and processed rice products (13 billion yen in 2012), and 25 billion yen for meat (5.0 billion yen in 2012), etc.
To accelerate the development of offshore markets, the government spearheaded the establishment of the Export Strategy Executive Committee comprising representatives from the relevant ministries and agencies, the JA Group and private firms, etc. Seven subcommittees under the Executive Committee's umbrella have also been set up for specific product types, such as rice, beef and marine products. Where production areas around the country have traditionally gone it alone in attempting to sell their products overseas, the aim is to set in place a system for tackling export expansion on an "all-Japan" basis.
Doubling exports poses a number of challenges. First, there are the import restrictions which a number of countries have placed on Japanese products following the accident at Fukushima. While those restrictions are gradually easing, aftereffects still linger. In September 2013, for example, two and a half years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Korea decided to ban imports of marine products from Fukushima, Miyagi and six other prefectures because of radioactive water leaks at Fukushima. The European Union has imposed strict regulations on meat imports in order to prevent the incursion of infectious diseases associated with livestock. These obstacles will need to be removed as soon as possible if the government is to achieve its one-trillion-yen export goal.
(original article : Japanese)
*This article was written by a specialist journalist.