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US-Japan Equivalence Agreement

As of January 1, 2014, certified organic products can move freely between the U.S. and Japan. The organic equivalence arrangement reopens the important Japanese consumer market for U.S. organic producers of all sizes and creates jobs and opportunity for the U.S. organic food and farming sector. The two-way trade agreement is the first in Asia, and also marks the first organic equivalence arrangement without organic standards exceptions.

Read the OTA press release for more information on how Japan and the U.S. will work together to promote strong organic programs, protect organic standards, enhance cooperation, and facilitate trade in organic products.

Background and Clarifications

As of January 1, 2014, under the arrangement the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) will recognize USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) as equivalent to the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) and the MAFF Organic Program (under applicable JAS regulations) and will allow products produced and certified as meeting USDA’s NOP standards to be marketed as “organic” in Japan. Likewise, the U.S. will allow Japanese products produced and certified under the JAS Organic Program to be marketed as “organic” in the U.S.

Conformity Assessments

Through a series of meetings and comprehensive on-site audits of both programs, both parties were able to ensure that while some of national program rules and approaches are not identical, they achieve an equivalent level of compliance, meet same objectives and maintain the high-quality standards important to the integrity of both programs.

Critical Variances

There are no critical variances under the U.S./Japan arrangement. This Japan/U.S. agreement is the first equivalence arrangement with no critical variances and the first two-way agreement in Asia.

Requirements for Export Certificates

  • Exports to Japan require TM-11 : The U.S. has agreed to use the current certifier-issued Import Certificates (TM-11), with updated instructions forthcoming, to accompany each shipment to Japan
  • Exports to the U.S. require import certificates : Comparable to requirements for shipments from the EU to the U.S., the USDA is developing guidance on the template and system requirements for organic products to be shipped from Japan

Livestock and Processed Products Containing Livestock Ingredients – 2020 Addition

Effective July 16, 2020, the Organic Equivalence Arrangement between the U.S. and Japan is updated to include livestock and processed products including livestock ingredients. These products were not previously covered under the agreement. Any livestock products with organic claims to be traded must now be certified under the equivalence as of July 16, 2020.

Labeling Requirements under the arrangement

The use of the JAS organic seal is mandatory:

Producers and Processors wishing to apply the JAS Seal in the U.S. must EITHER:

  • Be certified by a JAS accredited certifier OR
  • Have a contractual relationship with a JAS-accredited importer


Alcohol products certified to the USDA organic standard may be exported to Japan. The alcoholic beverage must display the USDA Organic seal if it is compliant with the USDA organic labeling requirement. If labeled as “organic” in Japanese, these products must be accompanied by an export certificate(TM-11) which contains:
  • Name of the certified alcoholic beverage
  • Name and address of the certified organic vineyard, distillery or brewery
  • Country of origin
  • Name and address of the organic certifying agent

Geographic Scope of this Agreement

Geographic scope of the U.S.–Japan Organic Trade Arrangement is comparable to the scope of the U.S.–EU Organic Trade Arrangement signed in February 2012.
  • Products grown, processed, packaged (where final processing occurred) in Japan or the U.S. and certified by an accredited certifying agency (ACA) operating within their respective country/region borders can be shipped directly to Japan/U.S. as a certified organic product
  • Products certified to either standard that were not grown, processed, packaged in the U.S. or Japan cannot be shipped directly to Japan /U.S.
  • Products not grown, processed or packaged in Japan that are destined for the U.S. must be certified to the USDA-NOP standard by a USDA-accredited certifier
  • Products not grown, processed or packaged in the U.S. to be shipped directly to Japan must be certified to the JAS standard or certified by a certification body recognized by Japan as an equivalent certification body/foreign certification agent

Mutual Accreditation

Japan and U.S. mutually recognize each other’s Accredited Certification Agents (ACA) and Registered Certification Bodies (RCB) as accredited certification agents.

Seal Use

Use of the USDA Organic seal is voluntary, provided that products meet the USDA labeling requirements
The use of the JAS organic logo is mandatory for products destined to Japan for those products that are JAS eligible (plant and plant-based products)

Certifier Mark

Japan and the U.S. require that the accredited certifier must be identified on the label

Organic Labeling in Japan

General Labeling Requirements: Products must still meet Japan’s general labeling requirements, which are similar to one another but may have subtle differences, just as products going to Canada must have dual language (English and French) labeling “Organic” . This applies to products containing 95 percent and above organic ingredients.

Applies only to products containing 95 percent and above organic ingredients


OTA Members can direct questions about this agreement to:

Sarah Gorman

Manager, International Trade

(202) 524-3901


Visit the National Organic Program

 website for more information

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