As of January 1, 2014, certified organic products can move freely between the U.S. and Japan. The organic equivalency 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 equivalency 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.
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.
There are no critical variances under the U.S./Japan arrangement. This Japan/U.S. agreement is the first equivalency arrangement with no critical variances and the first two-way agreement in Asia.
The U.S./Japan arrangement clarifies requirements for export of all U.S. organic products to Japan including plant and plant-based products that are JAS eligible and animal products and animal-based processed products not JAS eligible.
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
Labeling Requirements under the arrangement
Plant and plant-based products- 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
Animal products and animal-based processed products- May not use the JAS seal
- Certified by a USDA-NOP accredited certifier may access the Japanese market. All USDA-certified products must comply with the USDA organic regulations.
- These products may be labeled with the word “organic” in English or Japanese
- May use the USDA Organic seal
- An export certificate (TM-11) is not required
- 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
- 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
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:
Director, International Trade
Senior International Trade Advisor
The Organic Trade Association does not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, national origin or ancestry, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation or military status. Persons with disabilities who require alternate means for communication of program information can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.