Ep 11. Bridging the Japanese Market: Halal Products for Tourists
For this episode, Mr. Akmal Abu Hassan, the President of Muslim Professional Japan Association (MPJA), introduces himself and his life in Japan as a Muslim as well as the history of the establishment of MPJA. Starting from the bottom, Mr. Akmal worked with African Muslims and slaughter houses to be able to sell halal beef meat (wagyu) in Japan. Accepting and enduring all the challenges thrown to him, he succeeds in convincing two slaughter houses in Japan, located in Kumamoto and Shikoku, to operate in a ‘Halal’ manner, where the slaughter men are able to carry out the Islamic method of slaughtering. Mr. Akmal also shares his thoughts in utilizing halal food and implementing more halal menus in Japan to capture the market so that tourists from the Middle East, Indonesia and Malaysia can enjoy their meals without any worries.
Living in a foreign country for over 29 years, Mr. Akmal admits that himself, his Japanese wife and his two precious kids, had a hard time in Japan especially when it comes to indulging halal food. Due to his condition and challenges that he has to face over there in 2010, he decided to overcome his issue by creating a system called the ‘Halal Menu’. Since Japanese people tend to drink Sake while having their meal, halal certificates and halal restaurants are hard to find and obtained in Japan. As the Land of Four Seasons is known for its tourism as it blooms the economy, Mr. Akmal took the initiative to work with slaughter houses in Japan and got recognition from the Indonesians, and he and his team started exporting halal wagyu (beef) to Indonesia. He also confesses that Malaysian Malay food is not popular in Japan and people can hardly find a restaurant that sells Malay food. As such, he suggests that the government should focus on marketing halal products and services in Japan and not only for the 2020 Summer Olympics, but penetrating Malaysian culture and halal goods into the country itself by operating through the Kaizen (Japanese business philosophy) concept.
The ‘Prayer Room’ in Narita International Airport is regarded as ‘Silent Room’ instead.