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Japan faces uphill battle to ensure food security

66 Comments
By Eduardo Martinez

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66 Comments
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Japan...always slow to change .

-2 ( +19 / -21 )

I'll say! Why on earth is that farmer wearing a face covering in his own rice field? Does rice spread omicron? LOL

0 ( +29 / -29 )

Grow more nutritious vegetables instead of rice.

10 ( +18 / -8 )

Policy makers around the globe are hampered, restrained or beholden to powerful lobby groups. Here, it’s the JA that controls what the govts do regarding agriculture. More own goals.

20 ( +23 / -3 )

Organic farming, where food is produced through practices that use only natural substances, appeals to Japan as an alternative to it being almost entirely reliant on imported materials for chemical fertilizers.

Organic farming is not going to improve the current situation. All it will do is make things worse for the average consumer, as organically grown products cost a hell of a lot more.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

According to Yamashita, if Japan exported 10 million tons of rice, the global rice trade would jump by 20 percent to 60 million tons, and Japan could become the world's second-largest exporter behind India.

This is purely propaganda, and assumptions made without considering that Japan doesnt even hit the top 10 of current rice exporting countries. Pipe dream in the current world climate.

Oh and the world is not going to suddenly start buying Japanese rice to the point that it becomes No 2.

It's too damn expensive, and farmers here will certainly NOT lower prices,

https://www.statista.com/statistics/255947/top-rice-exporting-countries-worldwide-2011/

14 ( +22 / -8 )

'll say! Why on earth is that farmer wearing a face covering in his own rice field? Does rice spread omicron? LOL

What difference does it make to you personally? How are you hurt by this?

-7 ( +14 / -21 )

The push to ban fertilizers and fossil fuels is a much bigger threat to food security than Russia-Ukraine war. Sri Lanka completely collapsed their economy, agriculture industry, and created a big problem with food shortages by banning fertilizers and fossil fuels.

Bottom line is that organic agriculture does not even have close to the output production as standard agriculture practices. Yet, the globalist powers (that do not have any experience or much knowledge in agriculture and energy industries) still do not take that as a warning sign to take more logical and slower incremental steps toward sustainable methods as newer technologies emerge.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

In our location, many people are growing vegetables and fruits without the use of chemicals. We are given many.

Over the last three decades, the level of food security has fallen to unacceptable levels.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

60 million people or more will die of hunger

Kinda seems like fear-mongering to me. Like, sixty million? Ten times that of the holocaust? More than double the population of North Korea will starve to death? Absolute balogne, and not only this guy but whoever assigned him such high credentials to make these kinds of crazy comments to the media should be sacked. It's almost offensive how ridiculous these comments are, though I guess in the age of Covid-19 propaganda, nobody bats an eye when people spout stuff like this.

I get that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be really bad, especially for the Semiconductor industry, but Japan isn't importing it's beef or it's fish from Taiwan. Get real guys. All Japan has to do is not anger the countries it buys food from and voila, no problem. The Japanese are not helpless and in fact have practiced very good trade diplomacy over the decades, which I expect they will continue.

I'll say! Why on earth is that farmer wearing a face covering in his own rice field? Does rice spread omicron? LOL

It makes me sad that somebody would get so many downvotes for pointing this out. Maybe Japan should invest more money in ramping up it's domestic food production as opposed to wasting more money on useless masks.

-11 ( +8 / -19 )

It makes me sad that somebody would get so many downvotes for pointing this out. Maybe Japan should invest more money in ramping up it's domestic food production as opposed to wasting more money on useless masks.

What difference does it have in relation to the topic of the article? Also, what do up or down votes have to do with anything here too?

If you are posting purely to get people to "up" vote you, maybe you should seek a different place for your ego.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

"...a nation precariously dependent on imports."

Really? When we've had recent food shortages in Japan, it's been from milk and butter, produced entirely domestically. When the country gets major weather events, the prices of apples, tomatoes, etc, skyrocket to unaffordable levels. It seems Japan is "precariously dependent" on its own domestic goods.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

There is some kind of "death cult" promoting organic agriculture. Without fertilizer and pesticides, we all die of mass starvation. Organic agriculture is the exact opposite of sustainable; nutrients are removed from the soil via harvested grains and produce and not replaced - soils are destroyed.

Government reluctance to overhaul agricultural policy is something that most certainly is a serious problem.

Japan needs to join the 21st century and allow Japanese farmers access to GM technology. GM crops can be bred that yield more, are more resistant to pests and more to disease.

Currently Japan has one of the highest rates of a.i. of pesticides used per hectare in the world; around 5 times as much as used in Canada. GM crops can reduce the amount of pesticides needed, saving money for farmers and increasing yields that provide high profits to farmers.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Part of the lower food security is the food imports demanded by consumers. Yesterday, at the co-op there were prawns from Argentina.

Not as tasty or fresh as our local live ones.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

World Food Security Problem, some factors as to Why?

1) Largest Fertilizer & Potash producers Russia & Ukraine offline largely due to war & much of their grain exports

2) Fertilizer & Potash Stockpiles largely gone, used up since US NATO led Proxy War/Russian Invasion Feb 22

3) Global Crop Yields Dropping due to Lack of Fertilizer & Potash

4) Collapse of Farming population in Japan, nearly 3M less Farmers than 40 years ago, dropping Every Day!

5) Climate change, damaging Crop Yields

List surely longer, but Global Food Shortages getting worse by the day, compounding as Fertilizer & Potash insufficiency Worsens Crop Yield Performance

Many organizations like UN Project Record Global Starvation & Malnutrition this Year; Any Surprise such HIGH Food Inflation in Japan and Globally?!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

What is Prof. Suzuki smoking? The sea lane across the Pacific to the US and Canada would be under no threat.

They all do agree that Japan needs to increase domestic production. Japan needs more farmers. That is the crisis.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

In our location, many people are growing vegetables and fruits without the use of chemicals. We are given many.

I have a huge difference yard in Japan so I grow a bit of everything particularly peppers because you can’t get them in Japan. Other than that, I buy organic from a farmer I know and trust.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@bass4funk

This is a serious question. Don't you trust the science in regards to pesticide use? Why or why not?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The store requirements for the size and shape of vegetables and fruits cause problems for the growers. In our area, they grow daikon and carrots but if they don't meet those required sizes and shapes they are dumped back in the middle of the fields. Onions are another.

We eat them regardless of their sizes and shapes.

Food security problems for many countries, including Japan and the UK existed long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 2020 Census of Agriculture and Forestry in Japan reported that Japan had 1.52 million agricultural workers.

The country had 11.75 million farmers in 1960, 4.12 million in 1980, and 1.45 million last year. Japan's total population in 1960 was 92.5 million; today it is 126 million.

https://www.maff.go.jp/e/data/stat/95th/index.html

Modern robots and remote-controlled farming machinery can replace many of the farm workers needed. Drones are also being used. Computer systems for measuring when the crops need water and how much.

A rice paddy could be planted, grown, and harvested by robots.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Suzuki also noted the importance of fertilizers, whose prices have skyrocketed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Suzuki also noted the importance of fertilizers, whose prices have skyrocketed following the failed sanctions after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Fixed it.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I don't have to grow vegetables or fruits because we are given so many. Sometimes I share them with 4-5 other people. Maybe some tomatoes this year.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

AI can also be used for farming.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@wallace

You are absolutely correct regarding autonomous equipment. Unfortunately, government regulations are in desperate need of modernization. Remotely piloted mini-helicpoters to apply pesticides have been used for decades in Japan but GPS guided equipment is rare and autonomous equipment is not allowed, a farmer has to be in the seat.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Almost No Parent, including me, would tell their kid to pursue traditional farming and Japan's terrain does not lend itself well to automation relative to flat wide spaces.

All Food Tech. in this World won't solve Structural Fertilizer & Potash shortages anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Millions of Additional People are Projected to Starve to Death and Hundreds of Millions projected to suffer serious Malnutrition.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The farmers in our location are all very rich living in well build 10-15 room houses and several large expensive cars. Children spent overseas for private education.

There are young farmers but there are many 80+ and still working.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Good news for Japan? Record low% of young people, combined with aging and depopulation, clearly structural Demand for Food calories dropping Rapidly here.

Other Counties, not so LUCKY!

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Japan's food self-sufficiency rate was at 38 percent in fiscal 2021 on a calorie basis. Although it had risen by one percentage point from the previous fiscal year, it remains the lowest among the G7 nations. The next lowest is Italy at 58 percent.

Yeah and go look at the other G7 countries. It helps when you have a lot of farmland as America does. Most of Japan's land is mountainous.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Grow more nutritious vegetables instead of rice.

I guess you never heard of carbohydrates.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

And that's the problem, lack of investment in Food Production in Japan, as who wants to invest in such a shrinking market, whether capital or human resources?

It's not just Food, but we're talking it because of crazy high Food Inflation and dropping global production in context of massive geo-political risk and central banking money printing - rather toxic Food investment climate.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Suzuki also noted the importance of fertilizers, whose prices have skyrocketed following the failed sanctions after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Fixed it.

You know you need ammonia to make fertilizers and it emits a lot carbon right?

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The store requirements for the size and shape of vegetables and fruits cause problems for the growers.

This. I would be more than happy to buy the odd shaped fruits or vegetables for a lower price. Perhaps they should also consider removing the useless plastic wrappings if they are so concerned about sustainability.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Japan is a backwards, backwoods country when it comes to innovation in agriculture.

Scientists from the UK, the US, Germany, Australia and Taipei are working on engineering C4 rice. They will get there and Japan is not even trying enough to get a participation ribbon. C4 rice will big the "Green Revolution" of the 21st century. Where is Japan; propagandizing to its citizens on why rice grown in Okinawa is "better" than rice grown in Taiwan.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The price of japanese rice is close to gold. Nobody overseas would buy rice for $8 to $10 per kilo. Perhaps, you can find few Japanese living overseas may want to buy the sticky rice.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It's worth pointing out that 97% of rice in Japan is produced domestically.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Technology helps to reduce the number of farm workers.

When I came 30 years, many still planted the rice by hand requiring the whole family including the children. The same with the harvest.

Today, with machinery, one person can plant a paddy in a couple of hours, and the same with the harvest.

Nobody overseas would buy rice for $8 to $10 per kilo.

We never pay those prices. We buy brown rice for about ¥300/kg.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I remember this sweet old woman (90+ years old) who was from a family of farmers who lived near me and still tended a garden plot the city had. It was cool, you could rent a patch cheaply and everyone grew their own vegetables,

My wife asked her about organic gardening and pesticides, etc. She laughed and they couldn’t grow a bloody thing without it. She remembered how hard it was without it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Meredith BrooksToday  09:24 am JST

“Grow more nutritious vegetables instead of rice.”

I guess you never heard of carbohydrates.

Haha. Now that’s funny. I guess you never heard of vegetable and carbohydrates.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

But simultaneously, the human resources required to implement the government's strategies continue diminishing.

There you have it. If the plan was to have nursing home residents operate the machinery, it didn't work out so well.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I didn't know there was so much ignorance about food in a place where you take up half your conversations talking about food.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

My dream is to move to the countryside and live a simple life like Rupert Singleton. Grow my own food and sell the rest. I think there are many people like myself who have the desire to farm. I wonder if the Japanese government gave more visas for farming it could help. Probably a drop in the bucket though.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Don’t dump radionuclides in the sea, don’t sanction Russia, don’t sanction China and teach children that there is an alternative to working in an aircon office in Tokyo may be a clue.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Well, Japan will never reach self sufficiency in food with over a hundred million people.

Secondly, the number of farmers is decreasing not increasing.

It is backbreaking work which doesn’t offer high rewards for the majority of farmers in Japan

JA pays pitiful insulting prices to farmers but the

opportunity for direct internet sales is growing

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

According to Yamashita, if Japan exported 10 million tons of rice, the global rice trade would jump by 20 percent to 60 million tons, and Japan could become the world's second-largest exporter behind India.

Most rice eating societies don't want sticky rice. Those that do certainly won't be prepared to pay extra for it

Stop subsidising rice and encourage a more diverse agricultural output.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Patricia YarrowToday  07:14 am JST

I'll say! Why on earth is that farmer wearing a face covering in his own rice field? Does rice spread omicron? LOL

Maybe he has a pollen allergy? Unlike for viruses, masks are actually useful for stopping pollen.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Indoor vertical farming solves a lot of problems. You can't grow everything this way but darned if we shouldn't be growing everything that can be grown in an indoor vertical farm in an indoor vertical farm. Because the crops are grown in what is essentially a clean room there is no need for herbicides and pesticides. All water including water vapor in the air is recycled so new water use is very minimal. Save farmland and water for the crops that can't be grown indoors.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

City indoor vertical growing works better for vegetables than for grains and fruits.

kurisupisu

> Secondly, the number of farmers is decreasing not increasing.

And technology is increasing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is a backwards, backwoods country when it comes to innovation in agriculture.

Scientists from the UK, the US, Germany, Australia and Taipei are working on engineering C4 rice. They will get there and Japan is not even trying enough to get a participation ribbon.

Fair point, but when you've been a world leader for so long, less incentive and harder to change. Life expectancy here no accident, it's been working.

Such a conservative mindset here, especially around subject of food and health, deep norms for sure.

Finally, food so analogous to EV, this why change mindset, especially as it entails, cost and risk, not easy given rapidly shrinking market for 'calories' here!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Food tech. investment here suffers because market's not so flexible, urgency far less, far more suspicious etc.

So easy to imagine places with more immediate growth pressures and poor track record would embrace change.

Serious Japanese food tech in Singapore now, everything's outbound there, global tech in action, plus talent hub, low taxes and regulation, it works!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Growing food is a meaningful activity. Sustainable agriculture is the way forward. May each and every citizen of the Planet have sufficient food to eat. Long live humanity.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I consider farming and growing to be a noble art. I have farmed in the UK, France, Italy, and Japan. Makes for a better appreciation of food, an important concept in mindful eating.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Perhaps the farmer does have a pollen allergy. I guess my complaint is why can't JT find a non-masked photo of a farmer. Japan needs to normalize seeing faces again.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

"If there is an emergency in Taiwan, many Japanese will starve to death before they can even fight," Suzuki said, referring to Japan's ongoing efforts to beef up its defense capabilities.

I see what you did there. Beef.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Scare the public with the very remote chance of food shortages. Then crank up the subsidies to LDP supporting farmers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yoshikawa said that fertilizers and feed for livestock animals form the basis of agricultural production.

You don't need to import fertilizers or feed. All you need to do is collect the cow manure and use it for fertilizer. In turn grow fields of corn to feed the cows. If you do this, the cycle continues, and no import of fertilizers is needed. I have a neighbor who grows all his own vegetables, fruit and raises his own chickens. He also raises two cows a year and rarely needs to go to the store.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Is that farmer in the photo really a farmer? Several people have commented on his facemask. I think he is a model posing for the photo. What else would explain how clean his clothes and hands look?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I have been saying this for a long time but the MoFA trolls always downvote me. Now, the illustrious leaders of MoFA finally speak the truth about Japan's utter decline in the most crucial aspect of any civilization!

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

@Kenji Oh, Kenji, are you new to this? "They" are trying hard to ban cattle, without cattle there is no dung.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

There are Chinese Anti-CCP groups that have been predicting this approach for years now. The CCP has been planning the attack on Supply chains to weaken Industries, and food/water supplies for years now.

So when push comes to shove, do you think any Foreigner living in Japan will be treated fairly like any other resident - especially if they are Chinese ?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

quote: if Japan exported 10 million tons of rice.

Fantasy. Not enough farmers, farmers too old, not enough land, and rice is very climate change vulnerable.

Japanese people won't die of hunger if China invades Taiwan. Suppliers will simply shift sea routes and switch some stuff to air. Trade connections to primary food exporters Australia, New Zealand and the US will be fine.

Globalisation was a recognition that we are all inter-reliant on each other for stuff, including food and basic resources. Governments will soon stitch the trade routes they broke back together when people get 'hangry' enough and threaten to take them down.

Given Japan's demographics and land issues, there is a ceiling on its food security, and it is way below 100%. So stay friendly with your neighbours.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hydroponics works and requires relatively small amounts of space to have bountiful green leafy veggies, spices, in less than 1 square meter. Look up vertical farming. Japan is good at teaching their entire society to do certain things. Start in the schools with little farms and 6 plants for each 10 yr old student. In a decade, much of Japan would be changed with the homes with children growing 30+% of their own food, even for people living in small apartments.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's worth noting that food security, supplies/shortages, and inflation are function of loss of Fertilizer and Potash production in Ukraine and Russia, two largest producers.

As Fertilizer and Potash stockpiles surely gone by now, since War started in Feb 2022, means crop yields globally under downward pressure - less stuff to eat for same acreage planted, acre approx. 200m by 200m.

Thus, crop yield problems building, not linear but exponential growth in lost output. As insufficient fertilizer and potash usage has cumulative negative yield effect.

Thus, food inflation, shortages & related starvation & maturation will continue to grow, all else being equal.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the G7 countries in the West are the ones who is creating enhancing food insecurity by pushing for organic agriculture, banning fertilizers, that will reduce production significantly just like what happened in Sri Lanka and what is happening in the Netherlands, one of the world’s food producers. Food manufacturing plants and farms are intentionally being burned in the US and in Europe. One million cattle will be culled in Ireland just to meet the CO2 emission target. This is how far the world has gone mad! Eliminate hunger so they say and yet they ban fertilizers that will help solve that problem. Tsk tsk tsk

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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