Export Impact For Good

Countries / Territories

Country Profile Japan



    Situated off the eastern edge of the Asian continent, the Japanese archipelago is bounded on the North by the Sea of Okhotsk, on the East and South by the Pacific Ocean, on the South West by the East China Sea, and on the West by the Sea of Japan. The total area of Japan is 377,835 km2.  The five districts are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Okinawa. Each of the five districts consists of a main island of the same name and hundreds of surrounding islands. Japan is located at the northeastern edge of the Asian monsoon climate belt, which brings much rain to the country.

    Agricultural Sector

    The economic importance of agriculture in Japan has rapidly declined since 1950, with the sector constituting 1.7% of national GDP and employing 4.6% of the total labour force. A striking feature of Japanese agriculture is the shortage of farmland. Approximately 11.64% of the total land area in 2005 is cultivated (CIA, 2007). Japan is thus a major importer of food. According to FAOSTAT (2005-06), Japan is the largest importer of pork, maize and canned chicken, the second largest importer of beef, soybeans and wheat, and a major importer fruit and vegetables. Rice is the principal domestically produced crop. Non-rice farmland is planted with wheat and barley in the autumn and with sweet potatoes, vegetables, and dry rice in the summer. Intercropping is common: such crops are alternated with beans and peas. Although production is kept at high level thanks to use of technically advanced fertilizers and farm machinery, the agricultural sector in Japan suffers from many constraints such as the rapidly diminishing availability of arable land (FAO, 2004).

    Brief overview of organic farming

    According to IFOAM & FiBL (2006), the area under organic management in Japan is 29,150 hectares, which constitutes 0.56% of the total agricultural land. There are currently 4.539 organic farms registered in Japan. The same constraints affecting conventional agriculture also have an impact in the production of organic crops. Furthermore, the Japanese hot and wet climate conditions, make it even more difficult to cultivate crops without chemical fertilizers. Production trends for organic food and vegetables appear to be moving towards value added product lines, such as pre-packaged salad mixes. It is expected that although conventional agriculture is still in decline, organically certified products will increase both in area of production and in the range of products (FAO/ITC/CTA, 2001). After some years of confusion between green food (low use of chemical pesticides) and organic food, the Japanese government implemented in 2001 a new law (JAS Standards for Organic Agricultural Products and Organic Agricultural Processed Foods) with a clear definition of organic food and stringent rules for certification and imports.

    Brief overview of key organic products

    Certified organic produce from Japan includes: rice, green vegetables, green tea, sweet potato, taro, pumpkin, potatoes, citrus and other fruits. Potentially, Japan can be an enormous organic food market. Currently, consumer demand exceeds domestic supply and most organic products are imported. The demand for organic food is growing rapidly in Japan and it is expected that this will continue in the future.

    The network

    The development of organic agriculture in Japan is mainly promoted by the farmers NGOs, and by the private sectors. There is no specific government support for organic agriculture. However, there are two national organizations that promote the development of organic agriculture: the Japan Organic Agriculture Association and the Japan Organic & Natural Foods Associations.

    Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan

    Japan Organic & Natural Foods Association (JONA)
    Takegashi bldg. 3F 3-5-3, Kyobashi,
    Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0031 - Japan


    - CIA FactBook, 31.05.07

    - FAO (2004): Key Statistics of Food and Agriculture External Trade. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Statistics Division.  http://www.fao.org/es/ess/toptrade/trade.asp?dir=exp&country=3&ryear=2004  and http://www.fao.org/es/ess/top/country.html?lang=en 

    - FAO/ITC/CTA (2001): World Markets for Organic Fruit and Vegetables. Opportunities for Developing Countries in the Production and Export of Organic Horticultural Products.

    - FAO Statistical Year Book, (2005-06)

    - IFOAM & FiBL (2006): The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn & Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL.