• Kyodo

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Japan aims to more than double its agriculture, fishery and forestry exports to ¥2 trillion ($19 billion) by 2025, the government said Friday, an ambitious goal in the face of headwinds that include the coronavirus outbreak and a diplomatic row with South Korea.

The plan is part of efforts to sustain the farm industry even as domestic demand shrinks with population decline. The government will further seek to increase farm exports to ¥5 trillion by 2030.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a meeting that the popularity of Japanese fruit and vegetables in Asia means exports can continue growing. “We will quickly formulate a plan to achieve this new goal,” he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has made increasing farm exports a pillar of his economic policy, earmarking billions of yen in the fiscal 2020 budget to launch an organization focused on this task and to increase production of wagyu beef.

Japan logged ¥912.1 billion in agriculture, fishery and forestry exports in 2019, setting a seventh consecutive annual record but falling short of its ¥1 trillion goal.

Poor catches of scallop and mackerel, as well as a South Korean boycott of Japanese products amid a bilateral feud over compensation for wartime labor, contributed to the disappointing showing.

The outlook has not brightened this year amid the coronavirus outbreak, which is expected to deal a significant blow to China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Farmers are also under pressure from overseas competition brought about by Japan’s recent trade deals with the United States and the European Union, as well as a free trade pact involving 10 other Pacific nations.

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