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Economy

Give the gift of rice this Chinese New Year, Japan tells firms

Tokyo-led initiative aims to broaden mainland market for Japanese staple

Japan is promoting its regional rice brands to Chinese consumers. (Photo by Hisao Kodachi)

TOKYO -- Tokyo is encouraging Japanese companies in China to give Japanese-grown rice as a gift during the coming Lunar New Year holiday and has prepared a selection of some of the best-known varieties.

Japanese rice is slowly gaining popularity in China, and the agriculture ministry hopes the initiative will broaden its appeal.

Tokyo-based wholesaler Shinmei has packaged varieties, including Kyoto-grown koshihikari and nanatsuboshi from the northern island of Hokkaido. The gift boxes play up the rice's Japanese origin.

The Japan External Trade Organization will promote to employers the packages as gifts for both workers and customers.

Japan's annual exports of rice to China have doubled in recent years. But its reach remains mostly confined to high-end restaurants or affluent consumers.

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