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A large-scale trade fair was held at the Makuhari Messe convention center in Chiba for three days from Oct. 11 to promote the export of Japanese agricultural products. Targeting buyers from abroad, the fair, the first of its kind in this country, was co-sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) with the cooperation of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry. Although about 300 Japanese firms put their products on display, reactions from the overseas buyers was not altogether favorable. An Italian buyer said Japanese strawberries he tasted were too sweet and soft.

Farm minister Ken Saito criticizes the lack of efforts on the part of Japanese farm organizations to sell their products abroad. Saito, a former career bureaucrat of the trade ministry, is aware of the history of how Japanese manufacturers took pains cultivating overseas markets for their products, and urges officials of agricultural cooperatives to go visit other countries themselves if they want to sell their products abroad. Buyers from abroad, however, know how it is difficult to export Japanese agriculture goods.

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