Japan's agricultural, fisheries and forestry product exports rose 2.9 percent in 2023 to a record 1.45 trillion yen ($9.9 billion), with increased shipment to the United States and Hong Kong making up for a decline in sales to mainland China, government data showed Tuesday.

Despite rising for the 11th consecutive year, growth was heavily blunted compared to 2022's rise of 14.2 percent, hampered by China's import ban on Japanese marine products over the discharge of treated radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, according to the data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

File photo taken in April 2020 shows ocean-fresh scallops in Hokkaido, northern Japan. (Kyodo)

However, China remained Japan's top export destination and purchased 237.6 billion yen worth of goods in 2023, despite the figure falling 14.6 percent from the previous year, marking the first decline since 2011.

Marine product shipments to the country saw a steep drop of 29.9 percent, with scallops, which had shown strong growth in recent years, dropping 43.6 percent.

But scallop exports to the United States sharply expanded from September. Farm minister Tetsushi Sakamoto said at a press conference that some exporters are making good progress finding new markets for their products.

Sales of pearls surged 92.0 percent, as demand in Hong Kong notably grew after a trade fair was held there in spring, with green tea seeing a 33.3 percent rise, supported by increasing demand in the United States and Europe, according to the ministry.

Exports in the second half of the year fell 2.9 percent compared to the same period in 2022 due to China's ban. Sales of alcohol products to China such as sake and whisky also fell due to an economic downturn in the country.

The Japanese government is helping businesses establish new sales routes and strengthen their supply systems, with the aim of meeting its target of raising annual agricultural and seafood exports to 2 trillion yen by 2025 and to 5 trillion yen by 2030.

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