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Maruha Nichiro Group's Fishing Company, A & F President Imamura Asserts Need of Fishery Recovery Fund in Japan

June 25, 2009

Hironobu Imamura, President of Taiyo A & F, a fishing company of the Maruha Nichiro Group, had a press meeting at the company's headquarters in Tokyo on June 24. He made a comment on the regeneration of Japan's fishing boats and fisheries:

"It will become completely a thing of the past, unless the government agencies and civilians gather up ideas and put them into practice right away. Although the measures and policies of the Fisheries Agency are displaying some results to a certain degree, it's regrettable to see that the fundamental measures for the future of Japan's fisheries haven't been discussed. Fishing grounds in the South, in particular, have been noticeably experiencing a foray of foreign countries. Without the governmental interventions, EU's common fisheries policy, for instance, we have reached a point where Japan's far seas fisheries cannot survive."

He displayed a sense of urgency, claiming that Japan should set up "Fisheries Recovery Fund" (provisional title) and come up with supportive measures based on the real issues, following footsteps of the majority of countries in the world.

"Crucial Issue Relating to Japan's Guaranteed Procurement of Food"

President Imamura urged to establish "Southern Pacific Fisheries Agency" (tentative name) in order for the long-term securement of Southern fishing grounds by civilians. He made the following statement:

"At the previous summit of the Southern Pacific islands, a financial aid of \50 billion over the course of three years was suggested. The most rational and realistic way is to allocate a part of the aid as a fund for a joint indigenization project. The United States and EU countries sign a long-term umbrella agreement with Southern Pacific islands every ten years to provide their own fishermen with such generous, extensive assistance as the securement of fishing grounds, defrayment of fishing fees, and financial support for the constructions of replacement ships. On the other hand, Japanese fisheries are all operated by civilians, and therefore, it is next to impossible to compete with other nations. It generates a question if it is OK for Japan's far seas fisheries to vanish; in the end, this issue will all come down to a matter of guaranteed food procurement on a national level."

Mr. Imamura further said, "This is not a level of issue of how this will affect Taiyo A & F as a company or how the overseas purse seine industry will perform."

With regard to conflicting opinions on the recovery of fisheries between the Takagi Committee and Fisheries Cooperatives, President Imamura said, "It shouldn't be criticism for the sake of criticism. It is about time to end the argument and tackle the issue from a solvable aspect." (More in the next issue)

The original article was published on June 25, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Shin Nihon Global Transferred to Yokohama Reito

June 24, 2009

Yokohama Reito, located in Yokohama under management of Toshio Yoshikawa, concurred with a decision to take over the business of Shin Nihon Global, which underwent civil rehabilitation proceedings, with Fukui Chuo-Uoichi Co. Yokohama Reito and Fukui Chuo-Uoichi are slated to set up a new company together and this new company will take over Shin Nihon Glonal as its subsidiary.

Shin Nihon Global found its expertise in frozen marine foods trading and a role as an intermediary agent of processed marine foods. In addition to sales declines, the company suffered excessive liabilities due mainly to a bankruptcy of its largest account. As a result, the company applied with the Tokyo District Court for the corporate rehabilitation procedure on March 19. Its civil rehabilitation proceedings commenced on March 26.

Yokohama Reito is seeking to improve its function as a raw material supplier by harnessing Shin Nihon Global's business knowledge and human resources, and to achieve synergistic effects with existing operations. Yokohama Reito became convinced that the acquisition of Shin Nihon Global would mean the upgrade of company value.

It is believed that the new company will become a subsidiary of Yokohama Reito; and a company name, its capital, and an equity stake will be finalized in the near future.

The original article was published on June 24, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Otaru Fisherman's Kitchen Expands Frozen Sushi Business

June 23, 2009

Otaru Fisherman's Kitchen specializes in frozen sushi under the management of President Junichi Ishikawa in Otaru City, Hokkaido. With its own distinctive freezing technique and ability to maximize the advantage of ingredients from the fertile land and sea of Hokkaido, the company has two main operations: general frozen foodstuff operations, for restaurant and retailing industries, nursing homes, and school lunch programs; and "Central Kitchen" operations, which manufactures sugar controlled health foods. The company also harnesses its plant in Yantai, Shandong Province, China. The company just changed its name from Otaru Foodream as of June 1.

The company has a Tokyo branch office and continues to produce existing frozen food products. Especially, the company aims to strengthen the marketing of frozen sushi for nursing homes and school lunch programs where the company has already established substantial business records. Furthermore, with increasing global demand of "SUSHI" in mind, the company is also slated to focus on exporting business to Europe and the United States. Sales of \300 million is projected for this fiscal year.

Otaru Fisherman's Kitchen developed its own freezing technique, called "Rapi-shibareru" (patent pending), which entails a technique to shorten the time to reach the temperature of 70 degrees below zero in Celsius. The development of this method enables blast freezing twenty times faster than conventional ways, and nitrogen freezing five times faster. This high speed freezing technique prevents cells of foods from breaking up, making it possible to preserve the original freshness, flavor, and taste. The company utilizes the method for sugar controlled foods and frozen sushi products.

The defrosting of foods does not generate water drips, which keeps flavors intact; and quality of rice remains undamaged. Therefore, sushi fish remains fresh and sushi rice also stays fluffy, which receives favorable feedback from consumers. Overseas markets give high praises for the frozen sushi products, as well.

Fish for sushi is procured throughout Hokkaido, centering at the company's home town, Otaru. The company's line of products, "Hokkai Nigiri Sushi" and "Hokkai Chirashi Sushi," among others, offer safe and high quality frozen sushi, which brought the company numerous national level awards. The former Prime Minister Koizumi tried some of the frozen sushi and praised it by saying, "This doesn't look like frozen sushi, at all. It's delicious."

The original article was published on June 23, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Japanese Sand Lance Boat Seine Fishery Applies for Japan Eco-Label

June 18, 2009

Aichi Prefecture Whitebait/Sand Lance Boat Seiners Association initiated a process to acquire a fishery certification from Marine Eco-Label Japan (MEL Japan); the target fishery is Japanese sand lance fishery, which operates out of Ise Bay and Mikawa Bay.

Japanese sand lance is harvested by a sardine/sand lance boat seine fishery and a sand lance boat seine fishery during the months of February and May. These fisheries have conducted various resources management methods, such as refraining from catching parent fish before spawning, and instituting no-fishing zones to secure parent fish for reproduction.

The original article was published on June 18, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

FOOMA JAPAN Report: World's Fastest Picking Robot

June 18, 2009

At a booth of Nichimo (President Yukio Koike), "FlexPicker" was introduced; it is a topping machine equipped with the world's fastest picking robot, which can be used for manufacturing frozen shrimp gratin.

This product was designed and manufactured by Nikko, (located in Kushiro, Hokkaido, under management of Atsushi Sato), and marketed by Nichimo.

"FlexPicker" is a picking robot fabricated for food packaging. It possesses the capacities for tray-packaging individual items and individually packaged products, boxing up products, and lining them up. The robot runs at 200 shot per minute, the world's fastest record. It is suspended from the ceiling, ideal for space efficiency. As an option, a state-of-the-art image-identifying machine can be installed, enabling the detection of irregular items. It is also possible to wash the body of the waterproofed robot, which enhances sanitation.

"When we introduced "FlexPicker" fabricated for chocolate products last year, we received a slew of requests for a robot for frozen shrimp gratin. Therefore, this year, we brought in this machine with an ability to deal with shrimp gratin. We are willing to manufacture products corresponding to clients' requests," said Shuichi Isono, Manager of the Second Marketing Division.

The world's fastest picking machine can be checked out on the company's website at

Figure 1: Shrimp being lined up on
gratin trays at blinding speed

The original article was published on June 18, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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