Trend in Japan Web Japan
Business and Economy
Business and Economy Lifestyle Science and Technology Fashion Arts and Entertainment Sports People
Business & Economy
Moves to Certify Overseas Japanese Restaurants (January 30, 2007)

A sign for a Japanese restaurant (Jiji)
In the midst of the worldwide boom in Japanese cuisine, the government is planning to establish a certification system for Japanese restaurants overseas, in the hope of properly acquainting people with the delights of traditional Japanese foods. The system, which may go into effect in fiscal 2007, could also give a boost to exports of Japanese agricultural products.

Japanese Restaurants Proliferate
Spurred by the worldwide health boom, people are showing increasing interest in Japanese foods - which are widely known to be products of a dietary culture that is nutritionally balanced and low in calories. In many parts of the world, Japanese restaurants are an increasingly frequent sight. The total number of Japanese eating establishments overseas is estimated to be in excess of 20,000, with about 10,000 of them in North America alone. The number in Britain has tripled in the last five years to between 300 and 400, while there are said to be between 200 and 300 in the city of Paris alone.

There was a time when the idea of eating raw fish struck many people as odd, but non-Japanese diners have long since overcome their distaste of the notion and now regard sushi as the epitome of elegant Japanese cuisine. In the United States, ginjoshu (sake brewed with specially milled rice) and other types of high-quality Japanese sake are also gaining in popularity.

Nonetheless, just because a restaurant bears a sign proclaiming it serves "Japanese food" is no guarantee that it uses the ingredients, cooking methods, and seasonings of authentic Japanese dishes. In fact, what it serves may well be a fusion of cuisines, with Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, or other influences mixed in. As a result, misunderstandings about Japanese cuisine are spreading. It is said that many food buffs these days, before picking a Japanese restaurant, take the trouble to check whether the chef is Japanese or has been trained in Japan.

A conveyor-belt sushi bar in Singapore (PANA)

Exports Get a Boost
To improve this situation, moves are afoot to assist diners who want to get a taste of genuine Japanese food. This year a committee composed of experts who hope to raise the quality of Japanese restaurants in France was established in JETRO Paris, a French branch of the Japan External Trade Organization. This committee has launched a trial system for endorsing restaurants serving authentic Japanese cuisine.

Moves on the government level are also underway. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries has organized a blue-ribbon panel to look into the feasibility of a certification system for overseas Japanese restaurants, and in November the panel held its first meeting. The group will be investigating methods and standards for certification and the nature of the agency charged with operating the system, with a view to introducing the system in the course of fiscal 2007 (April 2007 to March 2008).

The increase in the number of Japanese restaurants in the United States has been found to stimulate the export of agricultural products from Japan. Taking note of this, the Japanese government has become interested in providing official backing to the nation's food industry in entering overseas markets. The hope is that if a certification system can promote the global spread of authentic Japanese foods, it may have the happy side effect of spurring exports from the agricultural sector.

 Page Top

Copyright (c) 2007 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

Drop Us a Line
Your Name

What did you think of this article?

It was interesting.
It was boring.

Send this article to a friend

Go TopTrends in Japan Home

Go BackBusiness & Economy Home