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An abundance of locally produced foods, cultivated by the climate and traditions of Japan and now shared with the World


Thanks to methods of production developed over many, many years as well as distinct local climates, natural features and soil quality, each region of Japan is home to a large number of renowned local specialties and well-known food products, such as beef from ○○ or persimmons from △△. Regional brands are to be found throughout the country, such as Kagoshima’s black beef or Ichida persimmons, and there are focus groups all over Japan engaging with such produce as a means of helping reinvigorate the communities from where they come.

In recognition of the w ide regional variety of agricultural foodstuffs and other produce, on 1st June 2015 Japan introduced a new system intended to protect these regional brands, increase profitability, and promote consumer confidence with the inauguration of “Japan Geographical Indication Protection System”. Using the GI title, the organization records the quality, standard and production methods in a national register linking a particular region to a nationally recognized quality standard. In this way specific products, brands and production methods become protected as intellectual property. As at June 2021, 40 prefectures had registered 106 local or regional products and two nationally recognized product, making a total of 108 registered products, with the organization anticipating even more products being registered in the future.


そのようななか、日本では201561日に、農林水産物・食品などの「地域ブランド」を守り、生産業者の利益の増進と需要者の信頼の保護を図る新たな制度、「地理的表示保護制度」がスタート。品質、社会的評価その他の確立した特性が産地と結び付いている産品について、その名称(=地理的表示GI:Geographical Indication)を品質、生産の方法等とともに国に登録し、知的財産として保護することとなりました。




A Geographical Indication (GI) is a classification given to local agricultural, arboreal, or fish products or foodstuffs. For instance, “@@ Region Apples”: from this title consumers can quickly identify from where the product comes and will know that the product is of good quality and meets a recognized standard of excellence. By having the Japan Geographical Indication Protection System register such GI products as intellectual property, their quality can be properly assessed, confidence in their quality can be maintained, and whilst protecting producer profitability, consumers can shop with confidence, knowing that when they purchase a GI marked product it will also be good for them.


Products that have been approved for GI receive both a Geographical Indication and a GI Mark on their packaging. The GI Mark can be placed on a product alongside its Geographical Indication thereby allowing customers to see that there is a genuine link between its quality and the region of production, thus proving that it is a genuine GI marked product. Registration of products is based on the Japan Geographical Indication Law, and as such they cannot be packaged with other food products if the GI stamp is to be included on the label. Furthermore, fraudulent use of the GI mark is in breach of the Japan Geographical Indication Law and is subject to criminal punishment.




The large red disk of the GI Mark symbolizes the rising sun above Mt. Fuji and the surface of

water. The main colours are red and gold: the colour of Hinomaru (the rising sun) is a Japanese formal and traditional colour. The design of the mark clearly shows that it is intended for use for genuine Japanese GI products and expresses “Japanese Style”.




Producers looking to create a regional brand by taking advantage of the Geographical Indication Protection System will gain the following benefits when it comes to their businesses.



Only quality products will make it to market


Product quality is nationally ratified, thus permitting the product to be guaranteed as part of a regional brand. This allows producers to expect stable or even increased prices for their produce.



Products can be differentiated as regional brand products


Product quality is protected as part of a regional brand. With the GI mark, that product can thereby be differentiated from others.



Producers no longer need pursue litigation to protect their brand


The government is in charge of managing situations concerning fraudulent use of GI marks and this eliminates the need for producers themselves to embark on litigation in order to protect their own brands.



Contributions toward overseas expansion of Japanese regional brand products


The GI mark on a product identifies it as a genuine Japanese regional brand in the country to which it has been exported and differentiates it from any unstamped products, and thereby contributes to regional product expansion overseas.

The presence of a GI mark serves as a standard to make it easy to identify when distinguishing what products have the special characteristics linked to their region of production in a market containing so many different foodstuffs. Furthermore, because the government oversees cases of fraudulent GI markings, customers can feel confident they are purchasing genuine products. In this way both producers and consumers gain important benefits from having products registered with the Geographic Indication organization.





The Geographic Indication Protection System is included as one aspect of intellectual property rights’ protection under international trade agreements (TRIPS agreement). According to a 2009 study by the International Trade Center (WTO and UNCTAD jointly founded agency)

Japan’s GI mark has international recognition in over 100 countries, including 11 in Asia, 7 in the Middle East, 17 in Europe (excluding the EU), 24 in Central and South America, and 24 in Africa. ※

In December 2017, Japan and the EU entered into an agreement whereby 48 Japanese and 71 EU products would be mutually recognized by protocols as high quality products. By means of this agreement the prevention of confusion and misunderstanding of imitation goods was eliminated so far as concerns the Japanese domestic market, whilst in the EU, Japanese GI marked products would be protected through the reduction of burdens on GI registration for Japanese producers and branding of Japanese food products.

In July 2018, Japan and the EU both signed an EPA (economic partnership agreement) in which by March 2019 the two would create the world’s largest free trading area, providing 30% of the worlds GDP and 40% of total international trade. At the same time as this agreement comes into effect, mutual protection of each other’s GI standards will begin in the two regions. The day when special Japanese products will become known throughout the world is fast approaching.

Reference Material:

Online Government PR editorial:

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries







EU Geographic Indication Protection Mark


Foreign products designated for protection cannot be affixed with a Japanese GI mark. However, while foreign products may be affixed with their own country’s GI mark, they are not bound by Japanese law to display that mark.

PDO (protected designation of origin): Agricultural produce, foodstuffs, or beverages produced, created, or manufactured according to inherited knowledge of that specific region.

PGI (protected geographical indication): Agricultural produce, foodstuffs, or beverages bearing a close connection with a specific region. Their production, creation, or manufacture must, at least at one stage of the production process, have been carried out within the region in question.





Information website on Japan’s Geographical Indications