Business

Japan’s farm exports hit record high for fifth straight year

JIJI

Exports of agricultural, forestry and fishery products hit a record high for the fifth straight year in 2017, backed partly by the global popularity of washoku (Japanese food), government data showed Friday.

The exports rose 7.6 percent from the previous year to ¥807.3 billion, according to the preliminary data, released by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

The growing popularity of washoku abroad helped push up agricultural product exports, including beef and green tea.

The overall exports were also buoyed by the yen’s weakness against the dollar and other major currencies.

Exports of beef, including popular fat-marbled products, surged 41.4 percent to ¥19.2 billion, partly due to Taiwan’s removal of its import ban on Japanese beef.

Green tea exports rose 24.3 percent to ¥14.4 billion, thanks to rising demand from health-conscious consumers in the United States and elsewhere.

Rice exports grew 18.1 percent to ¥3.2 billion. Strawberries, among which Amao and other brands are popular in Asia, logged a 56.6 percent rise to ¥1.8 billion.

The four food items all enjoyed record export numbers.

Exports of forestry products grew more than 30 percent, lifted by an increase in log and lumber exports to China and South Korea.

The central government aims to expand annual farm exports to ¥1 trillion in 2019.

But many Asian economies, the main destination of Japanese farm exports, still maintain import restrictions introduced in response to the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Farm exports are unlikely to reach the government’s target unless these regulations are eased or scrapped.