Japan’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry product exports in 2023 reached a record of 1.45 trillion yen ($9.9 billion), government data showed on Tuesday, January 30.
Although experiencing an increase for the 11th consecutive year, the growth was significantly subdued compared to the 14.2% rise in 2022. This slowdown was attributed to China’s import ban on Japanese marine products due to concerns related to the discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries revealed these factors.
Nevertheless, China retained its position as Japan’s primary export destination, with a purchase of goods amounting to 237.6 billion yen in 2023. Despite a 14.6% decrease from the previous year, this marked the first decline since 2011.
Shipments of marine products to the country experienced a significant decline of 29.9%, particularly affecting scallops, which had exhibited robust growth in recent years, with a notable drop of 43.6%.
However, there was a noteworthy increase in scallop exports to the U.S. starting from September. During a press conference, Farm Minister Tetsushi Sakamoto mentioned that certain exporters are making positive strides in discovering new markets for their products.
The Ministry reported a significant 92.0% surge in pearl sales, attributed to heightened demand in Hong Kong following a trade fair held in spring. Additionally, green tea experienced a 33.3% increase, driven by growing demand in the U.S. and Europe.
However, in the latter half of the year, exports witnessed a 2.9% decline compared to the corresponding period in 2022, primarily due to China’s import ban. Furthermore, sales of alcohol products, including sake and whisky, to China also dropped due to an economic downturn in the country.
The Japanese government is assisting businesses in creating new sales channels and enhancing their supply networks, aiming to achieve its goal of increasing annual agricultural and seafood exports to 2 trillion yen by 2025 and 5 trillion yen by 2030.