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Local company mixing foreign seaweed with Okinawa product

Date Posted: 2008-08-22

Only weeks after government officials discovered a fruit grower packaging and selling Taiwanese mangoes as locally grown products, Okinawa Prefecture’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Section has uncovered a case of a marine products company doing exactly the same thing.

Two companies, MINE marine products company and NIRAI Industrial, a food wholesaler, are accused of mixing seaweed purchased from the Philippines with locally grown seaweed. Okinawa Prefecture investigators say the activity has been going on since 2003, with the packaged products typically a 50-50 mix of Philippine seaweed, which costs ¥500 per kilogram, with Okinawa seaweed, which costs ¥3,000 per kilogram.

Prefecture officials say the Philippines seaweed is cheap, but looks and tastes the same as Okinawa grown seaweed. The illegal element is failure to list the product sources properly.

The Nirai Industrial president is charged with formulating the plan, and then disguising it. Prefecture and industry officials say they’re shocked, because Hiroiwa Miyagi had been the Director of the Okinawa Prefectural Industry Bureau and Okinawa Prefecture Commercial Industrial Director. Miyagi, who many official say was well respected by the industry, is currently the Okinawa Industrial Business Union Chairman.

Nirai Industrial Company, which is headed by Miyagi, was founded five years ago as a subsidiary company of the Okinawa Industrial Business Union, which Miyagi is also head of.

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