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"Fraudulently labeled "Japanese" melons found across Asia"

Asian food manufacturers have been tapping into growing demand for Japanese products by mislabeling local goods to make them appear authentic.

A survey of products sold in six Asian cities by Japan’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry found 927 items confirmed as being falsely labelled as being Japanese. This even included local Thai melons being sold as “Yubari Japanese melons”.

The research covered goods in some 30 supermarkets in each of the six cities. In Shanghai, wagyu beef was found to be manufactured in Australia under a prestigious Japanese brand name, while products wrongly purporting to be made by the Japanese Edo brand were widely available.

In a move to protect Japanese products from being mislabelled overseas, the ministry has embarked on a geographical indication system, whereby the names of items produced in specific regions can be registered as intellectual property. So far, 28 items, including Kobe beef and Yubari melon, have been registered.

Under the GI protection system, Japan can crack down on mislabelled food items in overseas markets through agreements with other countries to mutually protect their products. Currently, however, Thailand is the only country to have agreed with Japan to cooperate on the venture since it came into force in 2015.


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