Importing Rice, Wheat, Sugar, Starch

There are also laws concerning certain sections of food. Below is information pertaining to importing rice and wheat and sugar and starch into Japan.

1. Rice and Wheat

Since there is a large price difference between domestic and foreign prices, the Japanese government buys rice and wheat from importers at a lower price, sells them back to the importers at a higher price, and pays the difference to the government which is used to support domestic farmers.

In relation to rice, the following items are subject to tax payment: (1) rice grains (= rice husks, brown rice, polished rice, crushed rice), (2) rice flour, (3) ground rice grains and meal, (4) rice cakes, dumplings, and other similar food preparations of rice grains (= rice snacks, sake, sweet sake)1, (5) Granular rice grains that have been cooked or otherwise prepared by heating in advance (= rice balls/ rice burgers/ red rice/ rice balls/ boiled rice/  fried rice/ lunchboxes including rice/ frozen food/ retort food/ packaged rice/ germinated brown rice)2.

In relation to wheat, these include (1) wheat, (2) wheat flour, barley flour, unpolished wheat flour and (3) ground wheat meal, barley meal3

When importing rice and wheat which are subject to these payments, the payment must be made after submitting a payment request form, receiving a delivery notice, and submitting a receipt for the delivery notice and its copy to customs.

However, in cases where the goods are exempted from customs duties, such as portable goods for personal use by the entrant, unaccompanied shipments (100 kg or less per year in the case of rice), relief goods, and sample goods, payment of adjustment fee is not required.

In this case, the person who intends to import these grains, shall notify the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.


2. Sugar and Starch

There is a significant difference in prices between sugar imported from overseas and sugar produced in Japan.  For this reason, the “Law Concerning Price Adjustment of Sugar and Starch” collects an adjustment fee from imported sugar, which are inexpensive, and uses it as a financial resource to provide support to domestic sugar cane producers and manufacturers of sugar cane and sugar sweeteners, thereby eliminating the difference between the prices and maintaining a stable supply of sugar in Japan.

Under the Law, importers of sugar and other products are required to sign a written sale and repurchase agreement between Agricultural and Livestock Industries Corporation (ALIC) and the importer before declaring the import to customs, and pay the difference between the sale and repurchase to ALIC as an adjustment payment.  However, there are some exemptions related to duty exemption4.

A “Letter of Acceptance for Purchase and Repurchase” or a copy thereof issued by ALIC is required at the time of customs clearance.   

The products subjected to this is designated sugars5, isomerized sugars, mixed isomerized sugars, imported sweetened preparations, starch, and imported agricultural products used as ingredients for starch.

1 Excluding those for infants or for dietary use, or those containing less than 30 percent of the total weight of rice grains.
2 Except for those containing less than 30 percent of the total weight of rice grains.
3 See “Handling of Rice and Wheat at the Time of Import Customs Clearance under the Law Concerning Stabilization of Supply, Demand and Prices of Major Foodstuffs.
4 See “Handling of Designated Sugars, Isomerized Sugars, etc., Imported Sugar Prepared Products, and Designated Starch, etc. at Import Customs Clearance under the Law Concerning Price Adjustment of Sugar and Starch.
5 Raw sugar, high-sugar raw sugar, refined sugar, sugar in ice, sugar cubes, special sugar, and sugar mixed with glucose or other sugar other than sugar, other than those to which flavoring agents are added or those that are colored.

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