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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 17:49 07/27/2007
News Review #405: July 27, 2007

China Begins Import of Japan Rice

Reviewed by Takahiro MIYAO

China Begins Import of Japan Rice
People's Daily Online (7/25/2007)


It is widely reported in Japan that Japanese rice is now being exported to China, where two famous brands, Niigata Koshihikari and Miyagi Hitomebore will be marketed, mainly targeting affluent consumers in Beijing and Shanghai. This development is also reported in People's Daily with somewhat different emphasis from the Japanese media. It says that while China has started import of Japanese rice, Japan resumed its import of China's straws for the first time since 2005. It also emphasizes, by quoting the director of China's quality inspection agency, that China has always attached importance to the issue of food safety and Japan's official statistics showed that "99.42 percent of the Chinese food products examined by Japanese food quality authorities conform to standards."

This seems to reveal why Japanese rice is being sold in China now, after four years of interruption. Obviously the Chinese government needs to create some favorable, or at least neutral, news about food on the international scene in order to fend off protectionists' criticisms against the high volume and low quality of food imports from China to Japan, the US and other countries. Also the Japanese government may be interested in generating some publicity about rice export from Japan to justify its agricultural policy, possibly for the purpose of attracting farmers' votes in the 7/29 Upper House election.

However, the real question is whether this development can be regarded as a first step toward internationally competitive agriculture in Japan. The answer should be negative as far as rice is concerned, although some other kinds of agricultural products (e.g., potatoes and strawberries) may well be internationally competitive. This is because Japanese rice is just too expensive due to extremely low productivity on the part of rice farmers in Japan. Clearly, the Japanese government needs to adopt a more drastic agricultural policy than spending 50 million yen to help market Japanese rice in China.

This review is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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