The Japanese Market has become vital to the U.S. Economy. Japan is the number one export market for the United States. In 1993, Japan accounted for 37.6 percent of the total growth in U.S. value-added exports.
U.S. food products, in particular, are a huge market in Japan. American agricultural exports to Japan in 1993 were $8.7 billion. About one-third of Japanese agricultural imports come from the United States. However, there is sometimes a mixed reception in Japan regarding products from the United States. Japanese, on one hand, wish to do things "American" ever since the Second World War. But, on the other hand, U.S. products are perceived as less sophisticated than Japanese and European food products, in product formulation or packaging. Also, U.S. products are considered not as safe as domestics ones, due to the use of pesticides and chemical additives and the partiality of the Japanese consumer to purchase Japanese items.
The reason for the large volume of exporting to Japan is due to United State's comparative advantages. Food products are very expensive to produce in Japan. Japan's current labor shortage, combined with import restrictions and domestic price stabilization programs, have driven up domestic production costs.
The Japanese food consumption pattern consist of an openness to foreign products and a strong interest in things international. All types of international cuisine can be found in Japan. Many varieties of tropical and imported fruits, such as Florida grapefruit, California cherries, New Zealand kiwifruit, and Hawaiian papayas are readily available in supermarkets and department stores, as are imported alcoholic beverages ranging from Kentucky bourbon and Chinese beer to Russian vodka and California sake.
Japanese food consumption is marked by short-term trends. For example, Korean and Mexican food became popular a few years ago and then unpopular. There have also been...