Jiji Press YOKOHAMA (Jiji Press) — The National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, or JA Zen-Noh, resumed Tuesday exports of rice produced in Niigata Prefecture to China after a break of nearly eight years.
Niigata rice exports were suspended following the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant just after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
JA Zen-Noh, the business and marketing arm of the Japanese agricultural cooperatives, or JA, group, will resume Niigata rice sales in Shanghai late this month on a trial basis.
It aims to expand Japanese rice sales in the huge Chinese market with a population of more than 1.3 billion amid falling domestic consumption.
China lifted its import ban on Niigata rice in November last year.
The export resumption is “a landmark event” that will be appreciated by producers, agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa said at a ceremony in Yokohama on Tuesday.
JA Zen-Noh President Genichi Jinde said he regards the resumption as “the first step” in efforts to expand rice sales overseas.
JA Zen-Noh will sell a total of 500 bags each containing 2 kilograms of polished Niigata rice in Shanghai, targeting wealthy consumers. The organization plans to expand its Chinese sales network to cover Beijing and other cities.
China introduced its import restrictions on Japanese farm and fishery products in April 2011. The regulations still affect products produced in 10 prefectures including Fukushima, where the TEPCO power plant stands.
China also maintains import restrictions on Niigata products other than rice.
The Japanese government aims to increase the country’s annual exports of farm, forestry and fishery products plus food to one trillion yen in 2019.
The exports totaled ¥807.1 billion in 2017, of which rice accounted for only ¥3.2 billion.