TOKYO - Japan is readying for its first attempt to protect food brands associated with particular geographic areas, such as Kobe beef, which could be among the intial group of certifications.
The agriculture ministry will designate up to seven such brands as early as next week.
Geographical indications, or GIs, cover farm, fisheries and forestry products, as well as food and beverages, originating in specific regions and having unique characteristics. This status amounts to a monopoly on the use of the geographic name.
The concept was only just enshrined in Japanese law in June. Applications for 15 brands are currently being processed.
Besides Kobe beef, other likely designates include Yubari melon, grown in the Hokkaido coal mining town that made headlines by essentially going bankrupt; Aomori cassis, black currants from the northern prefecture of the same name; and Yame gyokuro, a fine green tea from Fukuoka Prefecture in southern Japan.
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