World-class Japanese seafood is now on the menu for U.S. service members and their families stationed in Japan. With the first shipment of Hokkaido scallops to Yokota Air Base, on October 31, shoppers at base commissaries (supermarkets) all over Japan will have convenient access to these high-quality, delicious products. In addition to commissaries, these items will be served in base messes (cafeterias) and onboard U.S. naval vessels forward deployed to Japan.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, United States Forces Japan Deputy Commander Brigadier General George B. Rowell IV, and representatives of Gyoren (Hokkaido Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations) observed the first delivery of scallops and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the first sale of Japanese seafood on U.S. military bases. They also extolled the close cooperation among Gyoren, the Japanese Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), Foreign Affairs (MOFA), United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, United States Forces Japan, and the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), whose representatives were in attendance.
“The United States and Japan are more than allies — we are friends. This is ‘Tomodachi 2.0.’ Friendship counts most in times of need. Japan should know America will be there in good and in bad times. The sale of Japanese seafood at U.S. base commissaries will help confront China’s arbitrary and unjust embargo on Japan’s seafood exports. Japan’s fishing industry, the U.S.-Japan Alliance, and the consumers shopping at this commissary will all benefit,” Ambassador Emanuel said.
On behalf of the Japanese government, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Nishimura Yasutoshi said, “We are very grateful for the effective and timely initiative of the United States. In particular, I am exceptionally grateful for Ambassador Emanuel’s leadership. Japan’s fisheries industry, especially that related to Hokkaido scallops, has been affected by import restrictions imposed by certain countries, but we hope to overcome this difficulty through the partnership between Japan and the United States.”
Hokkaido Governor Suzuki Naomichi said the prefecture would “work together with those in the fisheries industry to increase the consumption of Hokkaido’s safe and delicious scallops and make them available to people in the United States and other countries around the world. We appreciate your support and cooperation.”
United States Forces Japan Commanding General Lieutenant General Ricky Rupp said, “The 110,000 U.S. service members and families serving throughout Japan are part of the local communities in which they live and serve. This commissary access to Japanese seafood is one more way we are able to take part in and support our Japanese communities. I applaud DeCA and those who worked the logistics to make this a reality.”
Following Japan’s transparent, internationally-coordinated, and scientifically sound decision to release safe, treated water resulting from the March 11, 2011, triple disaster, and despite receiving endorsement from the IAEA for Japan’s process and procedures around the release, the PRC implemented a unilateral, unsubstantiated, and unfair ban of all Japanese seafood imports. The great hypocrisy is that Chinese fishing vessels continue to fish in Japanese waters to put fish from Japanese waters on Chinese tables.
United States elected representatives and senior government officials have stood in solidarity with Japan during this baseless ban. From Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, to bipartisan Congressional Members traveling with Representative Elise Stefanik, to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Commander Admiral Aquilino, these leaders have joined Ambassador Emanuel for meals featuring foods from the region affected by the 2011 triple disaster as a testament to Japan’s responsible, safe, and thorough health standards.
Another step to help provide additional sales to counter the ban was to start selling Japanese seafood at the U.S. military facilities in Japan, both through the commissaries and mess halls. The U.S. military was immediately responsive and began working with the Embassy and Hokkaido fishermen to make it happen.
As a result of the quick action by all involved, today, the commissary at Yokota Airbase received the first shipment of Hokkaido scallops. This first purchase order is for 800-900 kilograms to start. And, U.S. bases throughout Japan will procure additional seafood products in the coming weeks and months.
The United States will continue to stand up for our interests and values, and those of our allies and partners.