By Yukiko Katsumi / Japan News Staff Writer
Obtaining halal certification is vital for Japanese companies seeking entry into Muslim markets, while a growing number of tourists from Muslim nations are expected to offer good business opportunities to Japanese firms.
“We’d like to create ‘one halal standard,’ which is the best halal certification in Japan, to ensure it will be accepted in every Muslim country,” Mohammad Zubair, general secretary of Halal Development Foundation Japan Inc. (HDFJ), said at a press conference during the first day of a two-day Japan Halal Summit 2014 on Monday.
Such a standard would make it easier for Japanese companies to enter Muslim markets.
While the number of tourists from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has rapidly increased due to a relaxation of Japanese visa requirements, Japan still lags behind other Asian nations, the HDFJ said.
According to the Japan National Tourist Organization, a combined total of more than 300,000 tourists visited Japan from the predominantly Muslim nations of Malaysia and Indonesia last year, more than double the 140,000 who visited in 2011.
The HDFJ hopes the summit meeting will help promote business between Japan and Muslim nations by providing accurate information about halal products to Japanese companies, as some firms are hazy about what is permitted and what is not.
The Japan Halal Summit meeting serves as a first step in forming foundations for presenting accurate halal information to Japanese companies and government organizations as well as presenting information about Japan’s superb technologies, products and hospitality from a Muslim perspective, the HDFJ said.
“Our target is basically to make Japanese businesses more aware regarding the benefits of halal certification—what benefits they can get in trade, how they can improve their trade by dealing in halal products, a big market. Japanese government and businesses should make serious efforts [to improve their knowledge about halal],” said Syed Asad Sajjad Zaidi, chief executive officer of the Gulf Halal Center of Dubai.
The Japan Halal Summit meeting is attended by organizations from about 20 Muslim countries—including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan—as well as about 80 Japanese companies, ministries, agencies and other organizations.