The Agriculture Ministry of Japan plans to tighten regulations on taking domestically developed varieties of grapes, strawberries and other farm products out of the country. These measures are meant to protect their brand value from unfair international competition. The Ministry will submit a revision to the plant variety protection and seed act during next year's ordinary session of the Diet, the country's parliament, the sources said.
The move comes after it was found several years ago that seedlings of the high-quality Shine Muscat grape, registered as a new variety in Japan in 2006, were leaked to South Korea and China, impeding the expansion of exports. In Southeast Asia, Japanese-grown Shine Muscats, which sell for as high as more than 10,000 yen (€83) per bunch at home, were forced to compete with cheap South Korean- and Chinese-grown counterparts raised without permission, according to the sources.
The disadvantage is blamed on a deficiency in the plant variety protection law, which did not foresee the exportation of agricultural goods. Under current rules, varieties registered with the Japanese government are protected domestically as intellectual property, necessitating permission for cultivation. However, it is possible to carry them to some 80 foreign countries and regions such as China and South Korea.