If you like your proteins from soy, you already love tofu, natto and miso, important traditional foods here in Japan since a long time ago. But much of that soy is imported. No! GMO Campaign initiated a campaign some 15 years ago to encourage farmers to grow the beans again, and educate people about the importance of local consumption.
On February 15, 2013, a meeting was held with expert Makushita Keiki and others, to take a look at the progress so far. Yes, consumption of locally grown soy is increasing. But still, Japanese consumers are depending to a very large extent on imported soy.
Take a look at the graph: Of all the soy used, some 27% are used directly as food (while 68% is used for food oils, some of which is later used as animal feed). 5% goes to seed and other uses.
The interesting part is the soy used for food: some 22% comes from domestically grown soy, while 78% is imported (from North and South America, and possibly China). This data does not say anything about the amount that is organically grown, and there is also a portion of imported soy that is Identity Preserved (IP) and thus qualifies as non-GMO.
Of the soy grown locally in Japan, most comes from Hokkaido. 58% of the domestic soy goes to tofu, 10% to special cooked bean dishes, 13% to natto, 8% to miso (for soup mostly). Some 11% goes to soy meal used for special traditional products, especially sweets.
Look for the 国産 (kokusan) label if you want to support the movement to grow more soybeans in Japan!
Read more about food labels over at The Ultimate Guide to Reading Food Labels in Japan!