Japan: Agricultural News Update (8 - 21 December, 2020)

Stay updated on the latest agricultural news in Japan, that we publish every two weeks.

Covid-19 impact on Japanese consumer price

Japan's key consumers prices fell at the fastest pace in 10 years in November, as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) wraps up a policy meeting. The BOJ is expected to keep its main policy tools unchanged, but extend special funding programs to support virus-hit businesses.
Source: Japan's key consumer prices fall at the fastest pace in a decade as BOJ meets

Agricultural policy

Taiwan's ban on Japanese food
In 2018, Taiwanese voters approved a referendum to continue barring food imports from five Japanese prefectures after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster for two years. However, lifting the ban may take time, the member said. President Tsai Ing-wen’s struggle to clear the way for closer Japanese economic ties stems not from health risks but domestic politics.
Source: Taiwan ban on Japanese food looks set to stay

Former agricultural minister's graft scandal
A graft scandal involving a former agricultural minister has provoked a discussion with the issues of animal welfare in poultry farming in Japan. The donations to a former agricultural minister coincided with the fact that the ministry in January 2019 opposed the suggestion by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that the importance of providing pullets and hens with nesting areas and perches along with its animal welfare guidelines. Japan has its own reasons for preserving globally criticized battery cages; animal welfare shouldn’t supersede food safety.
Source: Former agricultural minister’s graft scandal sparks conversation about animal welfare in Japan

Detection of 180 times higher levels of pesticide residues in chrysanthemums
The Fukuoka Municipal Government has announced that it detected 180 times higher levels of pesticide residues than the standard level in garland chrysanthemums sold at a wholesale market in Fukuoka city. The city government is calling on residents to refrain from eating garland chrysanthemums in a specific area. As of Dec. 8, there have been no reports of health damage.
Source: Agrochemicals 180 times over standard found in chrysanthemum greens sold at Japan market


Prospects bright for drone business
In addition to agriculture, drones have been used in various fields in Japan. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has revised it several times to date the “Road Map for Aerial Industrial Revolution” created in 2017. METI’s road map sets four levels of drone use.
Source: Drone business attracts attention as growth industry

Green light for genome-edited tomatoes with high amino acid level
A committee of The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) on Dec. 11 accepted a Tokyo-based startup to sell tomatoes developed with genome-editing technology, with only providing a notification. MHLW does not require safety screening for genome-edited food that contains no external genes from other plants, which cannot be distinguished from conventional breeding and natural mutations. This is the first case in Japan in which a genome-edited food notification has been filed.
Source: Tomatoes genome-edited for high amino acid levels get green light in Japan

Drone used in pesticide spraying in agriculture

Japanese food culture

More fast-food outlets in Tokyo
Japanese sushi and hamburger chains are opening new outlets in Tokyo despite the coronavirus pandemic. They are forecasting the demand for quick bites and take-out food to raise revenues. The Japan Foodservice Association says the restaurant industry as a whole suffered a 5.7 percent drop in sales in October compared with 2019. However, sushi chains and other fast-food businesses raise their revenues by 1.8 percent.Source: Fast food chains expanding in central Tokyo

Sake's scaled-back prodution
Unlike previous years, Japan’s sake producers are struggling with scaled-back production amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Both domestically and abroad, restaurant closures and restrictions on dining have curbed demand for the drink. Due to a new spike in infections in Japan, the widespread cancelation of corporate bōnenkai (Japanese end-of-year parties) has curbed demand usually robust holiday sales.
Source: Sake brewing in 2020: ‘Hard times are going to be with us for a while’

Insect-based food on the up
Japanese consumers’ interest in insect food is rapidly increasing. MUJI has pushed the edible insect market to the mainstream with its strong brand. In 2020 the Japanese government also has created a joint task force with the private sector. Insect food is one of the targeted categories in the project.
Source: MUJI’s Cricket Crackers Are Constantly Sold Out. Here Is Why Insect Food Is Suddenly Trendy In Japan

Wasabi industry's fights declining demand
Fresh wasabi is known as 'green gold' in Japan because of the difficulty of farming, and therefore an expensive delicacy. Wasabi remains largely the preserve of high-end restaurants in Tokyo and Osaka. However, they struggle with the shrinking demands in the coronavirus scourge. Wasabi growers are trying to acquire new customers.
Source: Japan's wasabi producers farm 'green gold'

Wasabi cultivation

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