As explained in the first instalment of the essay, we are going to list up the challenges the Japanese halal industry is facing. Some of them are listed up in the following lines.
The first and foremost important challenge the Japanese halal industry, as in any other country, is facing is the lack of a unified ‘national Halal standard’. There are quite a few Halal certification bodies in Japan issuing halal certifications to restaurants, hotels and other food producers in the country. These halal certification organisations agree on the general meaning of the word ‘halal’. However, they have not yet been able to agree on a common definition of the term This lack of a common understanding of the term has resulted in confusion, misunderstanding and even abuse in the halal certification processes of these halal certifying authorities. There does not seem to be a uniformity in the application of halal standards.
Lack of knowledgeable staff who knows the halal concept and the whole value chain thoroughly and has the experience to implement all these processes according to Shariah guidelines is another challenge the halal industry is experiencing in the country. Most of the hotels, restaurants and other food manufacturers have not in-house specialists who are well-versed in the halal-concept. They are still learning the concepts by attending various industry events and other training courses.
Another challenge the halal industry in Japan has failed to handle so far, is to determine clearly who its target customers are. The industry is largely looking to the Muslim tourists from Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. However, they are not yet seeing the opportunities the potential customers of their halal products who are already living in Japan. These customers include the immigrants Muslims who came here for business, study purposes etc. and the native Japanese who embraced Islam as the religion of their choice. The halal industry also needs to consider the halal consumers who are not Muslims but want to consume halal products due to health benefits.
Another challenge the halal industry in Japan is facing is that Halal consumers differ in their own definitions of Halal, their levels of religiosity and in their personal tolerance for deviation from the Quran and other Sharia sources as Hadith and fatwas issues by modern Islamic scholars regarding halal.
Yet another challenge the halal industry in Japan needs to tackle is its failure to understand the diversity of domestic and international halal consumers and foreign government standards for halal products. This challenge is especially important to handle soon if Japan wants to significantly increase its exports of halal certified products to Muslim countries.