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To Rescue Japan's Seafood Exports, US Creates Supply Chain Without China

The US and Japan hope to maintain trade in high-value scallops and other products by processing seafood exports in Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan.



The United States Embassy in Japan has begun providing proactive support for seafood exports by Japanese fishermen. This comes in the wake of China's comprehensive ban on the import of Japanese seafood products. Beijing imposed the ban following the release of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the ocean.  

A substantial portion of Japan's high-export value scallops undergo processing in China before being re-exported to the US. This helps explain the US interest in serving as an intermediary. 

Washington will facilitate scallop exports from Japan to processing facilities in Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Moreover, all of these are registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The initiative aims to establish a new route for re-exporting seafood to the US.

Previously, Japanese scallops were commonly shelled and processed in Chinese facilities and then re-exported to the US. In the 2022-2023 year alone, the US imported Japanese scallops through China worth over $100 million USD (approximately ¥14.7 billion JPY). 

Due to China's recent total ban on imports, however, this route has become unavailable. In turn, this has raised concerns about reduced incomes for Japanese fishermen.

Fresh scallops from Fukushima Prefecture in the shell, ready for shelling and serving.

Processing in Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan

The facilities that the US is arranging are similar to those in China and well-equipped for scallop processing. Moreover, they have obtained FDA registration, a prerequisite for food processing aimed at export to the US market. This guarantees a smoother export process.

Representatives from the US Embassy have been visiting regions like Tohoku and Hokkaido There, they have been introducing the facilities of three countries and regions to members of the fishing cooperatives. The US has been intentionally showcasing its unity with Japan in resisting China's unjust import ban. At the same time, it has also been working to mitigate the embargo's impact on American imports of Japanese seafood.

In late August, US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel visited Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture, where he expressed strong support for Japan. He underlined, "The US stands firmly with Japan, especially when contrasted with China's overtly political decision to ban all Japanese seafood imports and past failures in openness and scientific cooperation."

US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, in an interview at the US Embassy. (© Sankei by Y Hagiwara)

Supply Chain Resilience

Japan and the US are advancing measures for economic security, including strengthening crucial supply chains. Nevertheless, China's recent import ban has served as an opportunity to expose vulnerabilities in these networks. 

The US government has refrained from imposing tariffs on the majority of Japanese seafood, including scallops. According to the ambassador, America will remain committed to enhancing stable seafood trade between Japan and the US.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Mizuki Okada


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