Japan has a population of just under 123 million people. With a limited amount of land area available for farming, Japan has relied on imports, importing roughly $65.0 billion in agricultural products in 2023. It was the fifth largest market for U.S. agricultural exports, with $13.1 billion imported. A variety of Japanese domestic policies affect and support producers of certain commodities. In addition, Japan imposes tariffs on imports of many agricultural products, and other Japanese trade policies protect domestic production. That protectionism, however, is changing due to trade agreements the country signed between 2018 and 2021.

South Korea

South Korea’s 2024 population is estimated to be roughly 52 million people. South Korea has turned increasingly to food imports to satisfy consumers’ demands for greater food variety, lower prices, and more convenience. In 2023, South Korea imported approximately $37.5 billion worth of agricultural goods, and the United States was the leading supplier with $8.8 billion in agricultural exports.

ERS's Outputs: Agricultural Sectors of Japan and South Korea

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has long conducted research and analysis on Japan’s and South Korea’s food and agricultural sectors and on the policies that affect both countries’ roles in world agricultural trade.  The agency continues to publish trade data on U.S. agricultural trade with these countries as part of the Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States data set

Other reports about Japan include:

  • The Impact of Japan’s Trade Agreements and Safeguard Renegotiation on U.S. Access to Japan’s Beef Market Since 2018, Japan has ratified trade agreements that generate challenges and opportunities for U.S. beef exporters. Using the Global Trade Analysis Project model, ERS researchers estimate that after 10 years Japan's imports of beef products will have increased by 26.6 percent and Japan’s production of beef products will have decreased by 17.2 percent. U.S. beef export values to Japan are estimated to increase $413.8 million.

  • The Impact of Recent Trade Agreements on Japan’s Pork Market Between 2018–21, Japan ratified trade agreements that will virtually eliminate its pork import barriers by 2028. Using the Global Trade Analysis Project model, USDA’s ERS researchers estimate that Japan's pork imports could increase between 3.6 and 13.9 percent by 2028 (compared with 2018 levels) due to the country’s global trade agreements. These increased imports could also reduce Japan’s pork production between 4.2 and 11.8 percent and increase U.S. pork exports to Japan by $281 million.

  • Tariff Reforms and the Competitiveness of U.S. Beef in Japan Japan is one of the largest beef-importing countries in the world and is an important destination market for the United States. This report examines how Japanese importers view U.S. beef vis-a-vis imports from Australia and other countries, how imports differ across beef products, and how market access reform might affect Japanese beef imports.
  • Japan, Vietnam, and the Asian Model of Agricultural Development and Trade Fast-developing Vietnam is following in the footsteps of Japan and the Japanese model of export-oriented industrialization. Vietnamese agricultural imports are rising fast and appear to be following the historical growth pattern of Japan’s imports. Trade policy in both countries has protected agricultural imports, selectively favoring imported inputs relative to consumer-ready products. 

Other reports about South Korea include: