Japan adds Kobe beef, Yubari melons to list of protected brands


The government added Kobe beef and Yubari melons on Tuesday to a list of food items accorded government protection as regional brands to enhance their marketing and sales.

Under the government’s “geographical indication” system, special markings can be affixed to the packages of designated food items signaling their uniqueness and offering consumers an opportunity to spot quality foods.

The seven food items added to the list Tuesday are Kobe beef from Hyogo Prefecture, Yubari melons from Hokkaido, Tajima beef from Hyogo, Edosaki pumpkins from Ibaraki Prefecture, Aomori cassis from Aomori Prefecture, “Yame dento hon gyokuro” green tea from Fukuoka Prefecture and “Kagoshima no Tsubozukuri kurozu” black vinegar from Kagoshima Prefecture.

The list comprised only liquor items prior to Tuesday.

The government is aiming to improve the international competitiveness of the nation’s farm and fisheries sectors as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, which was concluded recently with 11 other countries, could flood the country with cheaper imports.

Farm minister Hiroshi Moriyama told a news conference earlier in the day that the government aims to expand demand for food items in and outside the country by further promoting the region-specific designations.

The ministry has received about 50 applications for such designations, including those for the seven items added to the list Tuesday.

The government has set penalties for unauthorized use of the markings and sales of food items using the names of designated products.