Tokyo, April 9 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s agriculture ministry said Friday that the transfer abroad of seeds and saplings of 1,975 plant varieties will be banned if so requested by their developers under a revised law.
They are the first group of items subject to the regulation under the revised plant variety protection and seed law, which partially went into effect on April 1. The regulation is aimed at raising the brand value of high-quality farm products developed in Japan by preventing them from being taken abroad.
The plant varieties in the first batch are those that have already been registered with the government’s protection system and those that are now being examined for the registration. The regulation is set to take effect on Saturday for the already-registered varieties.
Rice varieties on the protection list include Yumepirika,” developed in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido, “Seiten no Hekireki” in the northeastern prefecture of Aomori, “Datemasayume” in Miyagi Prefecture, also northeastern Japan, and “Shinnosuke” in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.
Among fruit varieties on the list are the “Nagano Purple” grape in the central prefecture of Nagano, “Ruby Roman,” a grape brand in Ishikawa Prefecture, also central Japan, the “Hatsuotome” peach in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, and the “Skyberry” and “Amao” strawberries, grown in the eastern prefecture of Tochigi and the southwestern prefecture of Fukuoka, respectively.
Shine Muscat, a premium grape variety developed by a national research organization, is also included in the list.
Saplings of the grape variety have been taken to South Korea and China, and grapes grown from the seedlings without authorization have been distributed in Southeast Asia and elsewhere, hampering Japan’s efforts to boost exports of domestically grown Shine Muscat.
“We need to prevent further outflows of seedlings of high-quality farm products,” an agricultural ministry official said.
Under the revised law, individuals who take seeds and saplings abroad without authorization could be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years or fines of up to 10 million yen. Corporate violators could be fined up to 300 million yen.