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ECONOMY > Agriculture

MAFF to investigate unauthorized production of “forged” Japanese brand plant varieties

  • December 18, 2017
  • , Yomiuri , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will step up measures against the unauthorized cultivation of Japanese brand farm varieties for sale in overseas markets. Starting from fiscal 2018, MAFF will embark on a full-fledged fact-finding survey mainly in East Asia. In an effort to protect the rights of plant breeders, it will help them register plant varieties in foreign markets. It also aims to prevent unauthorized cultivation and expand the exports of farm produce made in Japan.


In Japan, plant breeders register varieties they developed and their rights are protected to prevent unauthorized cultivation. But the seeds of quality, brand-name varieties are brought out of Japan for sale without permit.


For example,  the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), the breeder of the popular “Shine Muscat” grape variety, confirmed in July last year that the fruit is being produced in China without permit. In South Korea, the “Tochiotome” strawberry variety was cross-bred with another variety. The newly-produced variety, called “Keumhyang,” is being exported to Hong Kong and other markets. According to MAFF, more than 90% of South Korean strawberries are cross-bred with Japanese varieties. The distribution of South Korean strawberries, which are less expensive than Japanese ones, in the Asian market, deprived Japanese strawberry farmers of export opportunities. An estimated loss comes to 22 billion yen in five years at most.


MAFF will outsource the fact-finding survey to the seedling industry to confirm the production of Japanese brand varieties and their distribution channels. Based on the results, it will study measures against countries, where the unauthorized cultivation is widespread.


In China and South Korea, there is a similar variety registration system. MAFF will encourage domestic growers to register their variety rights oversea. It costs them about several hundred thousand yen for registration, but MAFF will subsidize 50% of related costs. If they register in local markets, they will be able to demand the unauthorized cultivation be stopped and claim compensation. (Abridged)

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