In Japan before Heisei 13 (2001), there was no organic regulations, so phrases like "no chemicals used" or "organically grown" could be freely used without standards.
Eventually, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan followed other advanced countries' footsteps by officially regulating organic labels on agricultural products and established "Organic JAS System" to protect Japan and consumers. They set a standard of Organic JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) for organic agricultural products and organic processed foods and only products that meet these standards are allowed to be called "organically grown" and carry Organic JAS certification. Since tea leaves can't be washed like vegetables or fruit, this standard means producing our organic tea requires considerable effort in order to provide safe and healthy tea to all of our customers.
About the exportation and process of the JAS system
achieving equivalence with Western organic systems.
Currently, the Japanese organic system, Organic JAS, has reached a level equal to US and European organic systems, and as a result organic products that have JAS certification can be exported as valid organic products to other countries. However, the Japanese organic system wasn't recognized as valid system before, so products needed to acquire certificates from each county's organic regulators.
Our company acquired certification for Europe through the organization called ICEA, an Italian organic certification association and had already started exporting tea to Europe in Heisei 21(2009). Around the same time, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan was trying to improve the JAS system to meet European standards. In the summer of 2009, people from JAS and EU visited our Aracha (crude tea) factory and plantation. After checking the condition of our site as a factory having both JAS and EU certification, EU officials decided to recognize JAS as an equally valid organic system.
We are very happy that we could be a part of process of the globalization of the Japanese organic system.