Tokyo to go after businesses that pass off food products as premium Japanese items

The Japanese government will clamp down on trademark infringements of food products such as Kobe beef (pictured), Seki Saba mackerel and Uji matcha. - KOBE BEEF MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION PROMOTION ASSOCIATION

TOKYO: Businesses which pass off their food as premium Japanese products should beware, because the Japanese government could soon be coming after them.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has announced that it will be clamping down on trademark infringements of well-known Japanese food products overseas. They include food products such as Kobe beef, Seki Saba mackerel and Uji matcha, reported Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.

The Japanese government said it will do so by setting up Japan External Trade Organisation reporting counters overseas that will accept reports and conduct checks.

Food products passed off as genuine Japanese items are estimated to rake in more than 70 billion yen (S$631.9 million) annually, according to the ministry.

The first reporting counter was set up in Bangkok on Nov 17. It receives reports by e-mail and will dispatch its local staff to check when an trademark infringement report is made.

The staff will then contact the local authorities in Thailand to address any infringements, reported the Japanese media.

The trade organisation expects to encounter cases such as items which have producers’ names that suggest they did not originate in Japan, or meals served at restaurants that do not use fish caught in Japan.

By the spring of 2024, the counters are due to operate in a total of eight countries and regions, including China and Vietnam.

Exports of Japanese agricultural, forestry and fishery products and other foodstuffs amounted to 1.414 trillion yen in 2022, tripling over the last decade. - The Straits Times/ANN

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