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September 2019


Prefectural Government set up a study group on fermentation as the next key industry

The Shiga Prefectural Government (SPG) set up the Study Group on the Development of the Fermentation Industry in Shiga on September 6, intending to nurture the fermentation field as a key industry expected to lead the local economy. Shiga has so-called "fermented food culture" represented by funazushi (fermented crucian carp sushi), and it is largely believed that this food culture has helped the prefecture acquire NO.1 regarding healthy life expectancy across the nation.

The SPG is to have consecutive discussions with business leaders on the current situation regarding the fermentation industry and a possible industrial development plan, exploring the possibility of expanding business opportunities for growth.

The study group was attended by 7 experts including Professor June Shima of Faculty of Agriculture, Ryukoku University, fermented food producers, cooking specialists, chamber of commerce and industry representatives.

The first meeting was held on September 6 at “Unoya,” a public hall once used as a Japanese sake brewery, formerly owned by former Prime Minister Uno and now owned by Moriyama City Office. It was reported and confirmed that traditional fermented foods such as funazushi, Japanese sake, and soy sauce were produced in the prefecture and that there were several universities and research institutes specialized in agriculture and biotechnology as well.

“If small-scale enterprises network themselves with each other, it will revitalize the fermentation industry in the area as a whole,” says Kotaro Ikeshima, owner of HAPPY TAROU JOZOJO, which produces and sells koji (malted rice) and miso (fermented soybean paste).

"Small businesses are better at creating unique products, and this should be their strength," adds Tsuyako Kokabu, president of Kokabu Farm, which handles sweets using cheese.

“Local people think it is usual for them to consume fermented foods, but this can be appealing to people out of Shiga,” explains Takashi Aoki, secretary-general of Takashima City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which organizes study groups and shops.

Considering that the fermentation industry deals with various fields such as chemicals, medicines, and agriculture, the study group confirmed at the first meeting that the study field would cover medicines, cosmetics, bioplastics, bioethanol, and environmental cleanup.

The SPG is to organize several meetings to discuss the current situations and challenges, intending to incorporate an industrial development plan on the fermentation industry into the Shiga Industrial Development Vision, which will be revised within FY 2019.

(Sankei Shimbun, September 7, 2019)

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