Japan is also making a major new effort on the export front—exports of Halal foods, not the usual electronics. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s program particularly stresses exports of Japanese beef, aiming, in the short term, to double their value from the current $40 million annually.


              That export push is good news for Muslim countries. The Japanese government is providing subsidies to cover half the extra cost (that is, the cost of receiving Halal certification) for Japanese beef exported to Muslim countries. The major customers where purchases of Japanese beef are expected to rise include the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Malaysia.


              Why, though, is the government aiming for this rapid rise in exports, and why is Halal an issue? There are two reasons. One is that Japan has finally realized how large the Halal market is. Another is the growing number of restaurants serving Japanese cuisine throughout the world. In 2010, there were 30,000 Japanese restaurants outside Japan; in 2013, their number reached 55,000.


              Muslim visitors to Japan often enjoy Japanese beef, and we would like people in other countries to be able to enjoy Japanese cooking even more. We also hope that they will visit Japan. That is why people in Japan are studying Halal, building new processing centers, and acquiring Halal certification for their food products for export. The Halal Japanese products that you will see in your supermarket tomorrow demonstrate that Japanese dedication to sharing our cuisine, in the Japanese spirit of hospitality.