Japan imported a record $1.2 billion worth of seafood from Russia last year despite economic sanctions straining ties between the two countries, Japanese media reported Friday.
Data obtained by Kyodo news agency from the Japanese Finance Ministry show that seafood imports climbed steeply in 2022, breaking the $1 billion record set in 2018.
Snow crab provided the biggest value boost to bilateral trade after the United States stopped fishing for crab in the Bering Sea. Imports of Russian sea urchins, salmon, trout and pollock, a key ingredient in traditional kamaboko fishcakes, also rose significantly.
Seiji Haraguchi, director of the Hokkaido Trawl Fisheries Cooperative Federation, said the share of Russian imports on the Japanese food market was expected to grow.
“The presence of Russian products is expected to increase in the future as production continues to decrease in the United States,” he told Kyodo.
Japan imports around 40% of the seafood consumed in the country. Russia came third in terms of import value in 2022, trailing Chile and the United States.
The surge in trade comes as Russia continues bolstering its presence in Asia markets after being shunned by the European Union and the United States over its military campaign in Ukraine.