Diplomatic Bluebook 2022

Chapter 3

Japan Strengthening Its Presence in the International Community

4 Communicating Japan's Economic Strengths (Including the Promotion of Japanese Agriculture, Forestry, Fishery and Food Exports)

(1) Promotion of Japanese Companies' Overseas Business Expansion by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Accompanying Diplomatic Missions Overseas

The number of overseas branches operated by Japanese companies with branches overseas is over 80,000 as of October 2020. One of the reasons behind this is that many Japanese companies, which underpin Japan's economic development, have embarked more actively than ever before on overseas expansion with the aim of further cultivating foreign markets. There is considerable momentum behind economic growth abroad, mainly in Asia. To capture this for the Japanese economy, it is becoming increasingly important for the Government to support Japanese companies.

In light of the situation, MOFA, in coordination with diplomatic missions overseas, has been engaged in supporting Japanese companies in their efforts to expand their businesses overseas. At the diplomatic missions overseas, all staff, including those responsible for Japanese business support, provide Japanese companies with information while lobbying foreign governments under the leadership of ambassadors and consuls-general. Under the motto of being “open and responsive government offices,” these missions aim to provide specific support that corresponds with the conditions in that respective region. They also offer seminars about local legal systems, various information and legal consultations. In FY2021, these were provided at 19 diplomatic missions in 13 countries, with a focus on Asia.

In addition to consultations about business problems, another important function performed by diplomatic missions overseas for Japanese companies is promotion and publicity of the “Japan Brand” for products, technologies and services, as well as for agricultural, forestry and fishery products from Japanese companies at receptions to celebrate the Emperor's birthday and various other events and exhibitions. These missions actively offer the embassies and official residences of the ambassadors for use as publicity and advertising spaces for Japanese companies to hold product exhibitions, or for local governments to hold local product exhibitions and food-tasting events. These spaces can be used for conducting seminars on business expansion, or for exchange with local companies and concerned organizations. In addition, diplomatic missions overseas conducted projects utilizing online methods in response to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

From the perspective of public-private cooperation and support for companies, it is important not only to support Japanese enterprises seeking to expand their businesses overseas, but also to support those already operating overseas. Following a June 2016 national referendum in the UK on whether to remain in or leave the EU, the UK left the EU on January 31, 2020 and the transition period ended on December 31. As Japanese businesses could be significantly impacted by the actions taken by the UK and the EU, as well as their negotiations, the Government of Japan took necessary measures across sectors of the Government through seminars at the diplomatic missions overseas and the Government Task-force regarding the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, chaired by the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary launched in July 2016 (convened 15 times as of January 30, 2020). The Government of Japan will continue to closely observe relevant trends while taking necessary steps, including properly administrating the Japan-UK CEPA, and providing information to Japanese companies.

(2) Promotion of the Japanese Infrastructure System in Overseas Business Expansion

In order to capture infrastructure demand mainly in emerging countries and promote the overseas deployment of infrastructure systems by Japanese companies, the “Ministerial Meeting on Strategy relating to Infrastructure Export and Economic Cooperation,” comprising relevant cabinet ministers and the Chief Cabinet Secretary serving as chair, was established in 2013. A total of 52 meetings have been held as of December 2021. The Meeting had discussed annual revisions to and follow-ups for the Infrastructure System Export Strategy, which was formulated in 2013. In December 2020, the Meeting formulated the “Infrastructure System Overseas Promotion Strategy 2025” (hereinafter “the New Strategy”) based on recent changes in the relevant situations. The New Strategy aims to garner 34 trillion Japanese yen in infrastructure system orders in 2025 by promoting the achievement of three goals, namely (1) achieving economic growth, (2) contributing to achieving the SDGs, and (3) realizing the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Japan is taking specific measures to achieve the goals of the New Strategy. These include finalizing the “Policy toward steady implementation of the new strategy looking at the Post-COVID-19 pandemic,” formulating “thematic action plans” on five areas that include utility, mobility/transportation, digital, construction/urban development, and agriculture/healthcare/postal services, as well as establishing policy targets (key performance indicators, or KPI) for such things as trade promotion by high-ranking ministry officials to complement the prime minister's trade promotion efforts.

With regard to diplomatic missions overseas, MOFA has been appointing “Officers in charge of Infrastructure Projects” to gather and consolidate information on infrastructure projects (approx. 200 personnel at 97 diplomatic missions overseas in 75 countries as of the end of February 2022). This initiative has also shown results.

(3) Promotion of the Export of Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products and Food (Import Restrictions on Japanese Food Products after the Great East Japan Earthquake)

Expanding exports of Japan's agricultural, forestry, fishery and food products is a major objective of the Government of Japan. The Strategy to Realize Export Expansion of Agricultural, Forestry, Fishery and Food Products was formulated in December 2022 to further promote concerted efforts by the Government of Japan. The strategy calls for developing exporting regions and business operators in order to achieve two trillion yen by 2025 and five trillion yen by 2030 of agricultural, forestry, fishery, and food product exports. As part of efforts to accelerate initiatives to further expand exports, the strategy will be revised at the end of 2020, the year in which exports exceeded one trillion yen, and Export Promotion Organizations will be organized for each food item. MOFA enthusiastically promotes the attractiveness of Japanese agricultural, forestry, fishery and food products by collaborating with the relevant ministries and agencies, as well as Japanese companies and local governments, utilizing the networks of organizations such as diplomatic missions overseas as well as social media and other tools. In particular, Japanese business support officers (in charge of the food industry) have been assigned to 59 diplomatic missions overseas in 55 countries and regions to strengthen initiatives to promote the export of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products and food. Japan has made energetic efforts toward such promotion at numerous opportunities such as receptions and cultural events to which dignitaries have been invited from countries and regions around the world. Furthermore, in major exporting destinations and regions, Japan Food Export Platforms will be established primarily staffed by personnel from diplomatic missions overseas and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)'s overseas offices, and provide ongoing, comprehensive, and expert support to local export businesses.

One of the biggest barriers to increasing exports is import restrictions on Japanese agricultural, forestry and fishery products and food by countries and regions following the Great East Japan Earthquake and TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident. Although 10 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, the fact is that 14 countries and regions out of 55 (as of December 2021) continue to impose import restrictions on agricultural, forestry, fishery and food products from Japan, and it remains a serious problem. As eliminating these restrictions and addressing Japan's reputational damage are top priorities for the Government of Japan, MOFA has been making efforts in collaboration with relevant ministries and agencies to have these restrictions lifted as quickly as possible.

As a result of these efforts, in 2021, import restrictions were lifted in Israel (January), Singapore (May), and the United States (September). So far, 41 countries and regions have removed their import restrictions: Canada, Myanmar, Serbia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Guinea, New Zealand, Colombia, Malaysia, Ecuador, Viet Nam, Iraq, Australia, Thailand, Bolivia, India, Kuwait, Nepal, Iran, Mauritius, Qatar, Ukraine, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Turkey, New Caledonia (territory of France), Brazil, Oman, Bahrain, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Brunei, the Philippines, Morocco, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and the three above-mentioned countries. Furthermore, due to the relaxation of restrictions by Hong Kong (January), French Polynesia (March), and the EU (October), the number of regions with import restrictions and the number of products restricted have decreased (as of December 31, 2021).

Working closely with the relevant ministries, agencies, local governments and international organizations, MOFA will continue taking every opportunity and making every effort to provide further explanations and appeal to countries and regions that maintain import restrictions, with the goal of having restrictions promptly removed and reputational damage repaired based on scientific evidence.