Jiji PressTOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s exports of farm, forestry and fishery products, and foods in 2018 grew 12.4 percent from the preceding year to ¥906.8 billion, hitting a record high for the sixth straight year, the agriculture ministry said in a preliminary report on Friday.
The Japanese government has set a goal of increasing such exports to ¥1 trillion by 2019.
While the target would be met if exports this year increase at a pace similar to that in 2018, uncertainties remain partly due to growing concerns over China, the second-biggest economy in the world, observers said.
“We’ll keep working to achieve the target,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takamori Yoshikawa said at a press conference on Friday.
The stellar performance in 2018 mainly reflected robust beef and sake exports backed by the growing popularity of Japanese cuisine abroad.
Exports of beef shot up 29.1 percent to ¥24,731 million partly because Taiwan resumed imports from Japan.
In September 2017, Taiwan removed its ban on beef imports from Japan, which was introduced in the wake of the outbreak of mad cow disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in the country in September 2001.
Exports of sake increased 19.0 percent to ¥22,232 million, thanks to growing demand in other parts of Asia, as well as the United States and Europe.
Soft drink exports were brisk as green tea is increasingly popular abroad amid consumers’ growing health consciousness.
Sharp growth was seen for sweet potatoes reflecting a boom in yakiimo baked sweet potatoes in Southeast Asia. Exports also jumped for tuna and bonito used for canned products.
By country or region, Hong Kong remained top, with exports to the region totaling ¥211.5 billion, up 12.7 percent.
Exports to mainland China jumped 32.8 percent to ¥133.8 billion. The country overtook the United States to rank second, up from third in 2017.