JTB, Singapore firm ink deal to promote halal certification in Japan

KYODO – Japan Times

A major Japanese travel agency has signed a deal with a Singapore halal certification firm to promote and facilitate more food and beverage outlets in Japan to adopt Islamic standards of food preparation to cater to a boom in Muslim tourists.

JTB Pte. Ltd., signed the agreement Friday with Warees Halal Ltd., a Singapore government-linked company that is part of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and is authorized by the agency to provide halal certification services outside Singapore.

With Japan hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next year, there has been growing interest in halal food to cater to the special dietary requirements of Muslim athletes and visitors.

Halal refers to food that has been prepared according to Islamic law, such as not containing pork or alcohol. Also, cattle and poultry used for meat must have been slaughtered according to Islamic rites.

Under the deal, the two entities will promote and provide halal certification in Japan based on the Singapore halal standard and management system.

Although there is growing interest from Japanese food and beverage outlets to be halal certified, one of the main impediments has been that many would like to continue selling alcohol, as they must continue catering to their non-Muslim customers as well.

The Singapore firm helps address those issues by providing the option to have only a part of a restaurant be halal certified, enabling it to continue serving alcoholic drinks while also serving halal food.

Under the plan, two types of certifications will be offered — “halal certification,” which has more stringent standards, and “Muslim-friendly certification,” which is more flexible.

For example, due to conditions in Japan in which restaurants and cafes can be too small for their kitchen to be partitioned into halal and nonhalal sections, it is also possible for them to provide packaged, pre-cooked halal food as a Muslim-friendly certified restaurant.

The agreement aims to facilitate the growth and development of the halal food and travel industry in Japan, boost the export of halal products to and from Japan, and improve the experience of Muslim tourists in Japan.

“With our multicultural background in Singapore, our experience and expertise place us as an ideal partner to work with JTB in Japan,” Sallim Abdul Kadir, chairman of Warees Halal, said in his speech at the signing ceremony.

Toru Ikuta, president and CEO of JTB Asia-Pacific, said that “during the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan expects to receive a huge number of athletes and visitors from Muslim countries participating in the games.”

Aside from catering to Muslim visitors to Japan, Ikuta said he would like to see more Japan-made halal products being exported.