Google+ The Daily Jewel: Japan pearls in peril amid recession, competition


Friday, June 26, 2009

Japan pearls in peril amid recession, competition

Check out the full story from Reuters.

Japan's akoya pearl industry, which began in the 1890s when Kokichi Mikimoto created the world's first cultured pearls, is facing collapse due to plunging sales and stiff competition from China.

In the small fishing town of Wagu on central Japan's Ago bay, about half of the 45 growers are about to close down their pearl beds after prices halved this year, sending them even deeper into the red.

"It's the end if you lose your passion for the work you do -- and I'm losing it," said Akihiro Takeuchi, 43, one cultivator of Japan's renowned akoya cultured pearls.

"We can't live like this. It's really unprofitable ... Akoya may die out completely in this town in a few years."

Saltwater akoya oyster pearls have long been a benchmark of quality in the industry, with domestic production peaking at 88.5 billion yen ($900 million) in 1990.

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