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Russian seafood still making its way into Japan, despite sanctions

Russian seafood exports continue to flow into Japan, despite revoking Russia’s most-favored-nation status in March 2022 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The total value of all of Japan’s imports of Russian seafood in 2020 was JPY 103.9 billion (USD 900 million, EUR 900 million), representing about 7 percent of Japan’s seafood imports. 

According to the Japanese Ministry of Finance, imports of king crab (Paralithodes species) from Russia to Japan from January through August 2022 totaled 1,287,769 kilograms, valued at JPY 10.5 billion (USD 72.8 million, EUR 74.4 million), compared with 982,929 kilograms valued at JPY 4.7 billion (USD 32.6 million, EUR 33.3 million) in the same period in 2021, an increase in volume of 31 percent. The value increase, however, is not a straight comparison because the value of the yen has declined sharply in recent months.

Snow crab (Chionoecetes species) imports for the same period in 2022 was over 7 million kilograms valued at over JPY 22 billion (USD 152 million, EUR 155.2 million), as compared with just over 4 million kilograms valued at JPY 13.5 billion (USD 93.6 million, EUR 93.8 million) in 2021, an increase in volume of 77 percent.

Japan’s imports of pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) surimi from Russia in the period January through August 2022 totaled 11.2 million kilograms, valued at JPY 5.1 billion (USD 35 million, EUR 35.1 million). This compares with just 1.3 million kilograms, valued at JPY 430 million (USD 2.9 million, EUR 3 million). The large increase may reflect Russia’s improved domestic processing capacity.  

Despite retaining most of its access to its major markets, Russia has still faced enough disruption that it introduced an updated fisheries policy focused on increasing its processing capacity and boosting domestic consumption.


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