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Fukushima to exhibit specialty persimmons at Mideast food fair in export drive

23 January 2020

The Fukushima prefectural government announced on Jan. 17 that it will exhibit “ampo-gaki” half-dried persimmons at Gulfood, an international food sample fair to be held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for five days from Feb. 16. Fukushima's first-ever participation in the fair is designed to make a pitch for the specialty fruit from the northern part of the prefecture in a full export drive targeting the Middle East market.

Gulfood, one of the largest food shows in the Mideast region, drew some 5,000 corporate exhibitors and about 98,000 visitors last year.

The Fukushima government teamed up with the Headquarters of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations and JA Fukushima Mirai, one of the local chapters of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) group, to ship 10 kilograms of ampo-gaki to the UAE on a trial basis and conducted a promotional campaign there from Jan. 7 to 9. The fruit was received well for its texture and natural sweet tastes. They will seek to boost awareness of ampo-gaki through the exhibition, enhancing a promotional blitz in the Mideast to tout the fruit for use as a gift and other purposes.

The prefecture and farmers are scheduled to airlift several hundred kilograms of ampo-gaki to Thailand by the end of March.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

7 January 2020

Fukushima's specialty persimmons shipped to UAE, 1st export since disaster

Farmers in Fukushima Prefecture, assisted by the prefectural government, exported 10 kilograms of "ampo-gaki" half-dried persimmons to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a trial basis, marking the first overseas shipment of the fruit from the northern part of the prefecture since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Officials involved in the deal – from the prefectural government, Fukushima Prefectural Headquarters of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (Zen-Noh) and JA Fukushima Mirai – visited government institutions and distributors in Dubai from Jan. 7 to 9, making a pitch for the safety and quality of the fruit in an effort to explore the possibility of a full-fledged export push.

Dried fruit is a favorite in the UAE, a wealthy Middle East emirate, according to the Fukushima government. Using the country as a stepping stone, the prefecture and farmers are seeking to tap other markets in the region. Officials of the prefecture and the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) group introduced the airlifted ampo-gaki to the UAE parties concerned after confirming product quality and taste. "We would like to boost awareness of ampo-gaki and promote an expansion in exports," said an official of the prefecture's farm produce distribution section. The UAE has sought the attachment of a certificate showing the outcome of a radiation test on the fruit ahead of its shipment.

According to the Zen-Noh Fukushima headquarters, ampo-gaki shipped at home via the local agricultural group totaled 1,231 tons in fiscal 2010 through March 2011, but shipments plummeted following the nuclear disaster. They recovered to 930 tons in fiscal 2018. The prefecture and the JA group have judged it necessary to develop new markets to further increase shipments.

The prefecture and farmers are preparing to ship several hundred kilograms of ampo-gaki to Thailand this winter. As part of a full export drive, they plan to carry out a marketing campaign there after making the shipment, including tasting sessions at department stores and elsewhere, to bolster sales of the fruit.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

3 January 2020

Fireworks grace Fukushima’s J-Village ahead of Olympic torch relay

About 300 fireworks illuminated the winter night sky on Jan. 2 at the J-Village sports complex, straddling the towns of Naraha and Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, ahead of the start there of a torch relay across Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. People enjoyed the first such event at J-Village, once used as a forward base to battle the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear power plant accident, as they wished for progress in post-disaster reconstruction.

The event, organized by a group of 1976 graduates from Naraha Junior High School, was timed with an alumni reunion held in commemoration of all reaching the “kanreki” age of 60. They sought to heat up the torch relay set to kick off on March 26. As fireworks began to explode above the J-Village compound at around 5 p.m., town residents and other people loudly cheered each time a firework burst ripped through the dark night.

“I wish evacuated residents will increasingly come back for permanent residency and enliven their hometown,” said Hideki Matsumoto, a 59-year-old association staff member. “We would like to send out information on our town’s rehabilitation to the rest of the world through the Olympic torch relay starting in J-Village.”

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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