Number of Japanese restaurants abroad reaches 118,000 amid popularity of washoku

TOKYO, Nov. 8 – The number of Japanese restaurants in foreign countries totaled 118,000 as of October, up 30 percent in the last two years, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Nov. 7.

The increase reflects the growing popularity of washoku Japanese cuisine along with the rise in the number of foreign people visiting Japan.

The ministry plans to further strengthen promotion of Japanese food in order to help boost exports of agricultural products.

The ministry has been conducting a survey jointly with the Foreign Ministry and asking 238 diplomatic establishments abroad to compile figures on Japanese restaurants. The number was about 24,000 in 2006, topped 50,000 in 2013 and reached some 89,000 in 2015. It came to nearly 120,000 in the latest survey, increasing nearly fivefold in the last decade.

“The Japanese food boom is spreading further worldwide, as the government and the private sector have been holding promotional events in various parts of the world,” agriculture minister Ken Saito said as he announced the figures at a regular press conference. “We are determined to work on boosting exports as one way to maintain the foundation of Japan’s agriculture.”

Concerns over counterfeiting

The ministry is eager to take this opportunity to market Japan-made food products abroad. It plans to hold more promotional events as well as supporting nurturing of washoku chefs in foreign countries.

At the same time, however, it is said that the number of restaurants using counterfeit Japanese food products are on the rise overseas, taking advantage of the high reputation of washoku brands.

To cope with such problems and maintain and improve the brand reputation of Japanese food, the ministry has set up a certification program designed to certify overseas restaurants, bars and retailers which carry Japanese food and beverages as official “Japanese Food Supporters.” As of October, the ministry certified 1,126 stores and restaurants under the program, according to the Japan External Trade Organization.

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