TOKYO, March 3 — Japan’s strawberry growers have been perplexed with comments made by Japanese athletes who won a women’s curling bronze at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
At the post-race press conference last month, the Japanese curlers were reported as saying “Korean strawberries tasted delicious.”
In fact, more than 90 percent of South Korea’s strawberry production is a variety of Japanese strawberry breeds, including “Red Peal”, “Aki Hime” and “Tochi Otome”, as they had been sent to South Korea without permission.
“That convinced me that we have to combat agricultural theft of Japanese breeds,” said Japanese Agriculture Minister Ken Saito at a March 2 press conference. “I hope Japanese female curlers can enjoy Japanese strawberries.”
South Korea also has been pushing to export those strawberries to other Asian countries.
The agriculture ministry estimates that Japanese growers have lost an exporting opportunity, suffering losses of about 22 billion yen in the past five years.