Programs and Opportunities
50th anniversary logo of U.S.-Japanese
Partners for Half a Century: Soy Week in Japan
"U.S. Soybean Growers Celebrate 50 Years
of Market Development in Japan"
fast-paced, disposable society in which we live, not
many things last half a century. So when U.S. soybean
producers talk about celebrating 50 years of partnership
activities with Japan, it really does have special
story presents the highlights of Soy Week, a jam-packed
series of meetings, activities, and a celebration in
Tokyo, Japan, in August 2006. The week marked a very
special occasion in the history of the U.S. soybean
industry. The story began when the volunteer farmer
leaders and support staff of ASA (the American Soybean
Association) and USB (the United Soybean Board) --
ambassadors of agriculture -- traveled more than 6,000
miles through 10 time zones for Soy Week.
Nisshin OilliO Group
chairman Jokei Akitani receives a commemorative plaque
from ASA president Rick Ostlie.
by Bob Callanan, ASA communications director
Down to Business
group wasted no time in getting down to business. Some
members accompanied Paul Burke, director of trade
relations for USSEC (the U.S. Soybean Export Council),
to ASA-IM’s (ASA International Marketing) Japan office
to meet with U.S. food soybean and soy product
suppliers. The rest went to the 10th Annual Partnership
Forum with officers and members of JOPA (the Japanese
Oilseed Processors Association) and the Japan Oil & Fat
Importers & Exporters Association. Over the years, this
forum has provided U.S. soybean farmer leaders with
direct knowledge of Japanese customer needs and
concerns, and given Japanese soy buyers the opportunity
to observe U.S. soybean production, harvesting, and
managing director Yoshinori Komura described the
relationship between ASA and Japan’s oilseed industry as
a "marriage." He called the early years the "honeymoon
period," when U.S. and Japanese soybean interests worked
hand-in-hand to solve issues, develop new products, and
build market demand. The relationship has now matured
into a mutual dependence that benefits both partners,
Komura said, providing Japan with the soybeans and
technical assistance it needs, and U.S. soybean growers
with a dependable export market.
Partnership Meetings Get Underway
group also met with many Japanese customers for U.S.
soybeans to exchange views and information on various
topics. Some customers expressed concerns about the
impact of U.S. biodiesel production on export supplies,
and the use of agricultural chemicals.
Left to right: USB chairman Curt Raasch, Showa Sangyo
president Shigeo Fukui, and ASA president Rick Ostlie
discuss soy oil products.
assured our Japanese customers that demand for biodiesel
will not significantly impact our ability to supply them
with the soybeans they need," said ASA president and
North Dakota producer Rick Ostlie. "Although we
anticipate biodiesel utilization increasing from about
3.3 percent of this year’s soybean crop to 10 to 13
percent of our 2015 crop, we also anticipate in the next
10 years our yields will increase, and more acres will
told our customers that as farmers, we are very
conscientious about chemical handling and application,"
Ostlie said. "I explained how I have to re-certify every
three years to handle agricultural chemicals." He also
talked about ASA’s work with the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to get multiple fungicides approved
for use on the U.S. crop in advance of Asian soybean
rust disease. Growers in some Southern states used
fungicides in 2005 and 2006 to reduce soybean rust.
ASA-IM has also given Japanese regulators information on
residue levels for chemicals registered for use on U.S.
soybeans to show that U.S. levels fall within Japanese
group attended a briefing by Daniel Berman,
minister-counselor, and Deanna Ayala, attaché, both of
USDA’s Office of Agricultural Affairs in Tokyo, part of
FAS (the Foreign Agricultural Service). "The 50th
anniversary of ASA’s office in Japan says two things,"
Berman said. "Soybeans are important, and Japan is
important. We need to hold on to this market at all
cost, as it’s virtually irreplaceable."
ASA president Rick Ostlie and USB director John Wray
give a presentation on farm chemical use and Asian
soybean rust at the ASA-IM Food Bean Conference.
explained that because the Japanese population is not
growing, Japan needs smart marketing and problem
solvers. He urged the U.S. growers to help Japanese
crushers maintain a firm business footing in traditional
uses, and also develop new markets. "Food use of
soybeans in Japan is 1,000 years old, but Japan is
interested in U.S. research on health benefits," Berman
said. "Take satisfaction that the United States supplies
such safe and nutritious products."
Referring to the link between U.S. growers and the
Japanese soy industry, Berman said, "Japanese buyers can
afford solutions and need the best value. They need to
have frequent contacts and a year-in, year-out, office
presence from ASA. Japan is a customer that cannot be
taken for granted — that would be a huge mistake."
Akitani, chairman of Nisshin OilliO Group, said the
relationship between U.S. soybean farmers and Japanese
customers has helped to bring the two countries closer
together. "A large amount of the food needed by the
Japanese people must be imported, and since about 75
percent of the soybeans consumed in Japan comes from the
United States, a stable supply is critical," he said.
"We must have communication to maintain this
relationship between our countries, and ASA has been
serving a very important role as an intermediary."
Left to right: USSEC CEO
Dan Duran, USB executive director Yvonne Dock, USB
chairman Curt Raasch, ASA president Rick Ostlie, ASA CEO
Stephen Censky, and ASA-IM Japan country director Tom
Nishio hold a news conference.
Bean Conference and Trade Show
group attended the Ninth Annual ASA-IM Food Bean
Conference, to which Tom Nishio, ASA’s Japan country
director, and Dan Duran, USSEC CEO (chief executive
officer), welcomed 200 participants. USB chair and Iowa
producer Curt Raasch reported on the identity preserved,
food grade soybean crop. USB director and Kansas
producer John Wray, along with Ostlie, gave a
presentation on U.S. farm chemical usage and Asian
soybean rust. The
trade show following the conference featured products
from 12 U.S. companies and three state associations that
ranged from specialty soybean varieties to packaged soy
Anniversary Day Arrives
Anniversary Day, U.S. soybean industry officials held a
news conference for 20 media representatives. Yvonne
Dock, USB executive director, expressed growers’
appreciation for Japan’s purchases of U.S. soybean
products. Stephen Censky, ASA CEO and former FAS
official, emphasized the U.S. commitment to servicing
the technical needs of customers in Japan.
Japanese musicians play contemporary music on
traditional instruments at the 50th
celebration of ASA’s market development office in Japan
really illustrates the importance of long-term
relationships and trade servicing of important buyers,"
Censky said. "Japanese buyers and their trade
associations truly value the information they have
received from ASA, and the trust that has been built
over the past 50 years. Yet they also want to be
reassured today that we still are paying attention to
two-way partnership has been invaluable to U.S. soybean
farmers to understand the requirements of our Japanese
customers," Rick Ostlie said. "We welcome the
opportunity to host Japanese industry representatives at
our farms and businesses." Looking ahead, Tom Nishio
said, "Now that this milestone has been established, we
have to move forward to new challenges for the success
of the next 50 years for the U.S. soy growers."
About 400 people attend the reception to mark the
historic 50th anniversary of the opening of ASA’s office
in Tokyo in 1956.
Censky summed up Soy Week in Japan by saying, "All
activities -- whether it was the 10th Annual Partnership
Forum with Japanese processors and importers, the Ninth
Annual Food Bean Conference with food bean buyers and
manufacturers, the 50th anniversary celebration, or the
one-on-one meetings with key buyers -- all served to
underscore American soybean farmers’ strong dedication
to meeting the needs of Japanese buyers. We hope and
anticipate that this kind of trade servicing continues
to result in U.S. soybeans maintaining over 75-percent
market share in the Japanese market. That’s something
ASA-IM, and all soybean farmers, can feel proud about."
Callanan is the communications director of the American