Soybeans are rich in protein and fat and traditionally have been an important source of these nutrients for Japanese. Soybeans are used to make miso (味噌 みそ a paste made from cooked soybeans mashed and fermented with malted rice), shoyu (醤油 しょうゆ, tofu (豆腐 とうふ bean curd), soybean oil, and natto (納豆 なっとう fermented beans). Soybean sprouts are among common vegetable products.

Japanese consumption in FY1998 was about five million metric tons, while domestic production was about 190,000 metric tons. The remaining 96% is imported. Imports from the United States make up the largest amount at about 80%. Besides this, about 80,000 metric tons (88,000 short tons) of soybeans are produced in Japan each year for edamame(枝豆 えだまめ green soybeans), which are boiled in the pod and shelled.




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