KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — The Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) is expecting an increase in Japanese seafood exports to Malaysia this year in view of the boom in the tourism industry and the weak yen.
Managing director of Jetro Kuala Lumpur, Koichi Takano, said expectations of better economic growth in Malaysia will also boost demand for Japanese seafood.
“The Japanese government has carefully explained the safety of Japanese seafood based on scientific evidence in accordance with international standards and taking all possible safe precautions,” he told Bernama in a recent interview.
On August 24, last year, Japan started discharging treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, wrecked by a massive tsunami in 2011, into the ocean.
A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that the release of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) treated water into the sea planned by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the operator of the nuclear plant, has negligible radiological impact on environment and people.
“We are supporting Malaysian distributors, restaurants and retailers to import more Japanese products, including seafood and processed foods,” Takano said.
He said that based on the latest official government trade statistics from Japan, Japan exported 4.369 billion yen (100 yen = RM3.18) of marine products, such as fish, fish eggs, crustaceans and canned marine products, to Malaysia from January to December 2023, a 16 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2022.
During an official visit by his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said he had been reassured of the negligible radiological impact from the discharge of the treated water from the nuclear plant and would continue importing Japanese products.
Aldred Yaw, general manager of Sendo Ichi Malaysia, a fresh and frozen seafood products supplier, said demand for Japanese seafood is picking in restaurants now as, over time, customers have accepted the seafood for consumption.
“People are spending more in December and January in the food and beverage sector due to the festive season.
“Malaysia also has a very high respect and demand for Japanese seafood,” he told Bernama.
Yaw emphasised that scallops from Hokkaido are especially popular for their sweetness and freshness.
“Japan, as one of the biggest exporters of scallops in the world, is also famous for other marine products such as crab, oysters and sea urchins that are found in Hokkaido, where the sea is rich in aquatic life and resources,” he said.
In terms of prices, Yaw noted that there is no drastic increase in the prices of Japanese seafood as Sendo Ichi has worked with top producers and exporters from Japan that carefully control prices and are cost-competitive.
“Most of the seafood brought from Japan are farmed from the sea because of sustainable issues and to ensure a stable catch,” he added.
Yaw emphasised that Japan is also famous for other marine products such as Hamachi (yellowtail fish) and the coveted Bluefin tuna, mainly sourced from the producers in Aomori, Miyagi and Hokkaido prefectures.
He said the Japanese Bluefin tuna, which is known as the Rolls Royce of the tuna fish category, was reported as fetching a whopping auction price of around RM280,000 for a 60kg tuna in the Tokyo fish market last year.
“There are two big restaurant operators in Japan enquiring through Sendo Ichi of their interest in opening restaurants in Malaysia this year, as they see potential in South-east Asia market and Malaysia is one of the top tourist destinations in the world,” he said. — Bernama