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Japan’s seafood exports to China fall 57% in FY23; US becomes largest export destination for seafood

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An event to taste seafood caught off the coast of Tokyo’s Fukushima Prefecture in March 2019.

The value of Japan’s seafood exports to China in the fiscal year 2023 fell to about 40% of the previous year’s level, according to an analysis of trade statistics for the fiscal year 2023 released by the Ministry of Finance.

China was Japan’s largest seafood export destination in fiscal 2022, with about 30% of the market. But exports fell after the Chinese government suspended all imports of Japanese marine products to protest the discharge of treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean last summer.

Japan, which aims to expand exports of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products, must now rethink its export strategy.

According to statistics, the value of Japan’s maritime exports fell 17% from the previous fiscal year to ¥218.5 billion, marking the first decline in three years. This drop was due to a 57% drop in seafood exports to China – from ¥74.6 billion in FY 2022 to ¥32 billion in FY 2023 – the largest decline ever since comparable data became available in the FY 1988.

This decline exceeded the 49% decline in fiscal 2011, in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Exports of crab, salmon and bonito fell by 90%, 88% and 77% respectively. Exports of cod and tuna also fell significantly.

The United States was Japan’s largest export destination in terms of export value in fiscal 2023 with a 22% share, surpassing China’s 15% share. In fiscal year 2022, China was the largest export destination with a share of 28%.

China opposed the release of the treated water, calling it “nuclear contaminated water” and has suspended all imports of Japanese seafood. Japan has urged China to withdraw its blanket import ban by providing an explanation based on scientific evidence. If nothing is done, Japan’s seafood exports to China will be close to zero by fiscal year 2024.

The Japanese government aims to expand exports of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products as a pillar of its growth strategy, with a policy to increase exports from ¥912.1 billion in 2019 to ¥2 trillion in 2025 and then to ¥ 5 trillion by 2030. .

Assuming that China’s strong response to the discharge could be extended, Takahide Kiuchi, executive economist at Nomura Research Institute Ltd., said: “Japan should change the name ‘safe and high-quality’ Japanese products and expand exports to other countries and regions. than China.”



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