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Farm ministry to launch bureau to boost Japan's food exports

This file photo taken in August 2019 shows wagyu cattle in Hoki, Tottori Prefecture, western Japan. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan plans to set up a new bureau next year in an effort to significantly increase the country's exports of agricultural products, according to farm minister Kotaro Nogami.

    With the launch of what is tentatively called the Export and International Bureau at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan aims to boost farm exports to 5 trillion yen ($47 billion) by 2030 from 912.1 billion yen in 2019, according to ministry officials.

    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is putting an emphasis on farm exports as a way to revitalize regional economies.

    As part of the planned revamp of the ministry, the new bureau will be created by bringing together the International Affairs Department under the minister's Secretariat and export-related divisions of the Food Industry Affairs Bureau, the officials said.

    Nogami revealed the plan at a recent press conference as part of restructuring of the ministry to take effect in the next fiscal year starting April 2021.

    By strengthening the department, which has been involved in negotiations for the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-member free trade agreement, the ministry intends to step up the sale of agricultural and food products despite other countries being affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    Similarly, the ministry plans to elevate the Livestock Industry Department under the Agricultural Production Bureau to the Livestock Industry Bureau so as to better assist beef producers in expanding production infrastructure, according to the officials.

    Spurred by the growing popularity of "wagyu" overseas, Japan's beef exports jumped to 24.7 billion yen in 2018 from 3.4 billion yen in 2010.

    Including beef, major buyers of Japanese farm exports are Hong Kong, South Korea, China and the United States.

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