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Japanese food exports hit record high for third year on cheap yen, popularity of ‘washoku’

JIJI

The nation’s exports of agricultural, forestry and fishery products as well as foods in 2015 rose 21.8 percent from a year earlier to ¥745.2 billion, hitting a record high for the third straight year, a preliminary government report showed Tuesday.

The government’s interim target of expanding annual exports to ¥700 billion was achieved one year earlier, thanks to the growing popularity of washoku (Japanese cuisine) abroad.

Exports to other parts of Asia, the United States and Europe were particularly brisk, according to the report, released by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

The government is aiming to raise the annual export figure to ¥1 trillion in 2020, and the focus now is on how much earlier the target will be reached.

On Tuesday afternoon, the government will kick off public-private talks on mapping out a strategy for boosting such exports.

In 2015, exports of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products surged by 24.2 percent, 18.0 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively.

Exports of apples, beef and green tea each topped ¥10 billion for the first time ever. Rice exports jumped 56.4 percent to ¥2.2 billion.

Scallop exports grew 32.3 percent to ¥59.1 billion, the largest among fishery products.

Exports of alcohol, including whiskey, and soft drinks also increased sharply.

By destination, exports to Hong Kong were the largest, at ¥179.4 billion, followed by the United States at ¥107.1 billion, Taiwan at ¥95.2 billion, China at ¥83.9 billion and South Korea at ¥50.1 billion.

Exports to Asia accounted for about three-quarters of the total.