Carefully check your food additive admissibility: (e.g., preservatives, stabilizers, flavor enhancers). For information on U.S. laboratories approved by the Japanese Government, visit the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare‘s website at http://www.mhlw.go.jp/topics/yunyu/5/dl/a3.pdf. Verify all relevant import requirements with your Japanese customers. They will normally have the most updated information on Japanese regulations. Provide a detailed list of product ingredients to your Japanese partners to allow them to verify their acceptability. Do not assume that U.S. approval means Japanese approval. For organic foods in the United States, make sure you obtain USDA‘s National Organic Program approval. Then, working with your importer, you can register your product under the Japan Agriculture Standard (JAS) before exporting it to Japan. (http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop) After you have completed the above steps, check with the Agricultural Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo (email@example.com) with any remaining questions on issues such as standards, tariffs, regulations, labeling, etc. Depending on content, the ATO Japan offices may also be able to directly respond to your inquiries.
Import and Inspection Procedures Your job is not complete when your product has been ordered and shipped. You still must get it through Japanese
customs and port inspectors. The points outlined below should aid in this process: Review the USDA‘s ―Japan: Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) Country Report‖ to get a better understanding of these procedures. Know the specific tariffs that apply to your product before pricing to potential customers. Remember that tariff rates in Japan are calculated on a CIF basis and that Japan adds a 5% consumption tax to all imports. Do not send samples for preliminary checking without an actual request from your importer. Be aware that many parcel delivery companies recently adopted the policy of not handling any animal or plant
quarantine items (including dried fruit and nuts) due to possible delay in delivery caused by quarantine inspection. Make sure the delivery service you are going to use deals with your product before sending it to Japan.
Recognize that customs clearance officials‘ application of the law and interpretation of regulations may differ from one port to another. Thus, the least expensive or most convenient port may not be the best choice. Check with your local customer or in-country agent representative. Be sure to complete all documentation thoroughly and accurately. Send copies of documentation in advance especially for the first-time shipments, which can assist your importer in getting timely release of your cargo from customs and clarifying matters with quarantine officials. For fresh products, check phytosanitary and other requirements in advance and obtain proper USDA inspections in the United States (www.aphis.usda.gov and www.fsis.usda.gov). Approval for biotech agricultural products and ingredients is regulated by the Japanese government.