Japan’s rice and sake exporters want removal of tariff barriers

TOKYO, April 28 — Exporters of Japanese rice and sake have urged the government to strike a deal with importing countries such as Taiwan and China to slash high tariffs and other trade barriers.

The governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held a meeting on April 27 to hear from food exporters about the challenges when it comes to selling Japanese rice and sake to overseas customers.

Kosuke Kuji, the president of Nanbu-Bijin brewery in Iwate prefecture, pointed out that China and Taiwan impose a 40 percent tariff on Japanese sake.

“One company can’t fix the problem of substantial tariffs,” Kuji told the lawmakers.

Tomohiro Deguchi, Sapporo-based rice retailer Wakka Japan, who exports an annual 1,000 metric tons of Japanese rice to Asia, also stressed the importance of establishing a system that gives farmers a sense of some long-term benefits to exports rice.

The agriculture ministry has set up an ambitious goal to quadruple Japanese rice exports by 2019, at a time when the Japanese consumption of the staple food has continued sliding.

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