national

Gov't to end production quotas for rice

38 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2013 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

38 Comments
Login to comment

as a potent symbol of the country’s revered farm sector.

Not so revered considering the food self sufficiency rates and the status of farming. The idea that Japan is proud and protective of its culture is nonsense. They are proud when it is for show but if they can make money by bulldozing it and concreting they will bulldoze and concrete. The cultural pride and beautiful Japan stuff is mostly just brainwashing and playing dress up. The countryside is dying and with it so is traditional culture

11 ( +17 / -6 )

Japan has not been food self-sufficient during our lifetimes, and with only a tiny percentage of the land being arable, the possbility of self-sufficiency is nil, no matter what the level of tariffs or government handouts.

It is quite possible that the lifting of tariffs might increase production, as farms will be required to consolidate and increase efficiency.

In any event, the 3% of the economy which Japanese agriculture makes up has held the other 97% hostage for too long, and forced us to pay three times for food what it cost in America is now finally being questioned. It's about time,

13 ( +19 / -6 )

and forced us to pay three times for food what it cost in America

When talking about food market and habits, the USA is not the example to follow. What do you want, a system where to buy a hamburger is cheaper than to buy a lettuce?. Must be the unhealthier developed country in the world.

But yap, they should not give away money to the farmers. Have you notice how only old people is working on the countryside these days?

1 ( +12 / -11 )

One of the only things I agree with Abe on, and sangetsu's post is bang on.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

When talking about food market and habits, the USA is not the example to follow. What do you want, a system where to buy a hamburger is cheaper than to buy a lettuce?

100 percent spot on. And that is not to mention the amount of oil based products and chemicals that pass for food.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Japan has no natural resources . Which means they have no bartering tool. With rice at least they have something for self sufficiency in case there ever is a world war, natural disasters which destroys crops in other countries or countries like china who may decide at any moment to just stop selling rice to Japan for some reason or other . You have to protect your country & their people to a certain extent . You cannot rely 100% on other countries for everything. especially your staple food. of course, Japanese will continue growing rice, but the percentage of rice grown in japan will shrink yearly as prices will drop & profits will shrink. It's already becoming a problem as the younger generation does not want to farm . This will only exasperate the problem . Allow the import of rice, but keep it very controlled . I believe rice is imported into japan & this control seems very reasonable . I know awamori ( Okinawa's local brew ) is made from Thai rice & I believe many of the convenience stores use imported rice . & although they're saying here tariffs on imported rice run at 800% the convenience stores sell it at extremely cheap prices . hmmmmmm . please correct me where i'm wrong as these are beliefs not sure how factual.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

jinjapan Nov. 27, 2013 - 08:23AM JST With rice at least they have something for self sufficiency in case there ever is a world war, natural disasters which destroys crops in other countries or countries like china who may decide at any moment to just stop selling rice to Japan for some reason or other

The average Japanese farm is less than 5 acres, compared with about 440 acres for the average U.S. farm and many farmers are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. Most Japanese farmers have very little money, no youth, and no future with majority of Japan’s farmers that are senior citizens. Due to an aging farmers, J-goverment has to make tough decisions for their future. The country side Japan's farmers is already approached some sort of dead end by the result of depopulation, trade liberalization and depleted government handouts. Japan now nation that now imports over 60 percent of its food. A change in TPP agreement with U.S. could be the end of inefficient rural commercial rice farmers in Japan.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

None of you seem to realize that since Fukushima, self-sufficiency has been a non-issue. The government tossed their targets in the can after the revelation of the cesium soil contamination reports, from around the country, like Shizuoka Prefecture, after the particles were carried in the air.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It a right thing to do for Japanese goverment to remove the aging farmers subsidy that total $46 billion annually. Why should average citizens get penalized for higher price of welfare farming subsidy. It's a waste money. But there is the problem with Japan food supply. Japan imports 60 percent of her food, and U.S. imports around 10 percent. Japan depends extensively on imports for their food. If some of these Japanese farmers are not growing anything, the least they could do is to grow other types of crops for their needs. The selected California rice is comparable in quality to rice in Japan, so let the consumer decide on buying U.S. rice at fraction of the cost of Japanese rice.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Well i think the rulling party can forget about those votes in the next election

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I think once the subsidies for rice farmers changes, watch for Japanese agricultural interests to seriously look a snapping up rice farms in along the Sacramento River basin north of Sacramento, CA in the USA.

Here's the reason why: rice grown in this part of California is known as Calrose rice, the closest thing American farmers grow to the medium-grain rice preferred by Japanese palates. We could end up with huge exports of Calrose rice directly to Japan.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Japanese rice is really quite weak and uses lot of chemicals in its production, bought from JA (Nokyo) who in turn buy the rice back from the farmers for distribution along with their votes. A very powerful group...

1 ( +4 / -3 )

100 percent spot on. And that is not to mention the amount of oil based products and chemicals that pass for food.

This is not the point. The point is that when you only have to spend 4.5% of your income on food instead of 13%, you then have nearly 10% more money to spend on other things, like a larger home, a better bicycle, or raising children. People who spend 1/3 less for food don't necessarily eat three times as much.

And let us not forget that Japan's food industry is not without it's trouble spots. Every year there are outbreaks of food poisoning which injure and kill, we read these stories on JT regularly enough.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Seriously Japanese people, vote a totally different party already.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Jinjapan: Japan has a multi faceted array of natural resources, a multitude, even now a carbon based one in the form of methane hydrate. Keep up with developments. This isn't 1941. Wind. Hydro. Geo-thermal. R and D. A world class transport system. A manufacturing base that is envied by developed nations and the list goes on. It is good that the Rice Class is being pulled down, they act as though they are Shogunate over-lords holding everyone to ransom on the MYTH of Japanese rice. It IS the 21st Century.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This may seem like step in the right direction, but many rice farmers are old people with no pension. This will force a lot of them into bankruptcy and with no welfare to support them it's gonna be a tough slog for them. However, on the other hand, there are many younger and capable rice farmers that only work a few months a year and life the high life off their government subsidies for the rest of the year. No doubt, these are the ones protesting. One would hope this would force farmers to diversify their crops. Rice farming is an extremely inefficient use of land cos the land lays baron for half the year. It may even inspire the farmers to start producing biofuel with their waste instead of burning it or using it for hamburger filler.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A wonderful move by Prime Minister Abe. I hope we will be able to buy cheaper imported rice in 2018.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

About time. The thing is, I don't expect them to invest the money or pay off debt with the money this will free up. Where is this extra money going? Back pockets perhaps?

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

The self-sufficiency / national security argument is a spurious one. There is no way that Japan can be self sufficient in food, unless the population declines by more than half.

Anyone who has been to the Japanese countryside at harvest time and who has the faintest grasp of economics can see that the current situation is unsustainable. The OAPs riding mini-combines round a few small rice fields are only able to do so because the Japanese consumer grossly overpays for rice. This situation has persisted for so long because of the disproportionate political influence of the agricultural lobby. Rural Japanese constituencies are overrepresented, all the more so as the population of the countryside falls.

A lot of people will cling to the nostalgic image of small scale rice farming, but it is better to encourage farmers to either consolidate and concentrate on high-end varieties, or switch to other crops which give them a better chance to compete against imports. Protectionism is almost always bad because it prevents the most efficient use of labour and disincentivises innovation and competition in any industry. Japanese business services, such as publishing and advertising, are arguably another case in point, but that's for a different thread.

The best Japanese industries are those that have to compete, not those that are protected by subsidies.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is not the point. The point is that when you only have to spend 4.5% of your income on food instead of 13%, you then have nearly 10% more money to spend on other things, like a larger home, a better bicycle, or raising children.

I can't speak for anyone else but I would rather pay an extra 10% rather than eat some of the poison that passes for food. I get what you are saying but in the long-term it is unrealistic for any society to continue living where only 4.5% of income is spent on food. It is unnatural to have a larger budget for your cable TV subscription than your food costs. Perhaps one of the reasons why there is much more respect for food in Japan than the US is because it is too cheap there. I do agree with you though that food costs in Japan are scandalous but this is mostly because of the local gangster otherwise known as JA. There has to be a middle ground between the US and Japan, it is also no good if the huge agro-corporations get a foot in the door here. I hope they think this one out carefully.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

This is the best thing that has happened to agriculture in Japan in 60 years. Part time farmers, old people hanging on and woefully inefficient farmers will be pushed out and young go-getters can expand their operations and frow exactly what the market wants.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

proxyNov. 27, 2013 - 11:30AM JST

This is the best thing that has happened to agriculture in Japan in 60 years. Part time farmers, old people hanging on and woefully inefficient farmers will be pushed out and young go-getters can expand their operations and frow exactly what the market wants.

If you think this os going to happen, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell.

This is just an exercise in smoke and screens for the TPP negotiations, so Japan can keep existing tarrifs on agricultural products, but beg for patience and time that things will change.

Abe did it with Abenomics and his 3 arrows. In the end the 3rd arrow was a dud and all we got was currency manipulation and large public works spending which has been the LDP policy since 1993.

The LDP and Abe are not the party of change.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

YES!! It's about time! Anyone who wants to argue that point should look at North American grocery store advertisements. Nippon has been paying through the nose to eat, and having eaten enough of it, I can say there are bargains and there are ripoffs. Rice is a ripoff, just like beef. Ever heard of a beautifully rare 2kg beef roast without fat that costs 2000 yen? Daily it's in my grocery store's meat aisle. How about a 20-kg bag of jasmine rice for 990 yen? Dump the protectionist agricultural subsidies and incoming-product tariffs and the Japanese people would not only save incredibly on their food budgets, they' eat better and their children would learn a thing or two about the other people around the globe. But that's another story. Abe's doing the right thing. Ride with it or fall off the horse into the canyon.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

the closest thing American farmers grow to the medium-grain rice preferred by Japanese palates.

The closest thing? I think you and just about everyone here would be hard pressed to tell the difference between Japanese grown rice, Calrose, or California grown koshikari rice.

This is another step by Abe in conjunction with Abenotics to wean the LDP off the support of the aging (petrified) agriculture support that they have had for decades. He realizes the country can't afford it, and for him and the LDP their bread is going to be buttered by industry rather than farmers.

Another piece of the puzzling return to days of old falls into place. (Up next the constitution)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is just an exercise in smoke and screens for the TPP negotiations, so Japan can keep existing tarrifs on agricultural products, but beg for patience and time that things will change.

Very much agreed. As usual, not all is at it seems. Hayashi-san (Agriculture Minister) said yeterday that a fund will be established to support agricultural infrastructure in villages particularly affected by the change (i.e. all of them). So things go - its change but nowhere near as dramatic as you might think. Those votes in the countryside are important, still.

There is no way that Japan can be self sufficient in food, unless the population declines by more than half.

Thats just a matter of time according to the demographics.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Finally a move by Abe that I can get on board with. So far it's just been meaningless razzle dazzle by printing money and weakening the yen to get companies to repatriate earnings and make the markets soar (i.e., the rich getting richer). This move on farming is the first true measure to knock down one of those walls that keeps the rest of the world out of Japan, and results in a complacent society.

Keep going in this direction, Abe! Let the Japanese learn to compete on an even footing with the rest of the world and they'll rise to meet the challenge!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In short, I think the arable land in Japan should be used for something besides growing rice except for out in the Chiba Peninsula and Niigata Prefecture, where growing conditions are well-suited for rice farming. They should concentrate on growing more vegetables and especially more fruits.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I agree overall, but keep some of the land in fallow (standby). Have some supplemental welfare available to the poorest of farmers (this will used much less than the taxpayer money used now for these government progams). Perhaps some of the wealthier farmers could also contribute a fund for those living in poverty as some farmers are actually quite wealthy in this country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another self desructive farce aimed at concentrating the countries wealth in the hands of the powerful few.

Even in 1988 more than 2/3 of all farmers earned most of their income from non-farm employment. This means these people are not getting rich off their farms. Far from it, the only full timers ojiisan and obaasan are bent over double working from dawn to dusk. The young wife has a full time job a nearby fu-factory, making 90,000 yen a month, the same as an entry level factory worker in Taiwan or Korea. Papa has a job in a machine shop making 180,000 a month. They work at the farm on the weekends. They just manage to scrape by, but they are happy, Their kids grow up to understand hard work and mans relationship to nature and the land on a personal basis.

But to the corporations who will soon control this land, these people are obstacles. If the corporations hire these former residents of the land they purchase, as Japanese citizens the former residents will have "rights". But if the corporations hire foreign "trainee" workers they can pay them a pittance, stack them up in plywood dormitories, and send them back to their home countries if they complain about withheld wages or egregious overtime.

And I'm sure the resulting cost reduction won't show up on your dinner plate, but rather in corporation profits.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I'm curious: how many people in Japan actually eat rice on a daily basis, these days? I do an informal survey of my adult students who eat a so-called traditional Japanese breakfast (rice, fish, miso soup, pickles) and usually out of 20 hands, only one or two go up. As for the kids, almost all of them reply either "bread" or "yoghurt." Recently an increasing number of them say "pizza." And that's the kids with the stay-at-home mums. I honestly think that Japanese rice farmers are going to be dealing with far more difficulties than the end of tariffs. The whole landscape of Japanese food culture is changing dramatically, and just making rice cheaper isn't going to encourage people to eat more of it.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

' Part time farmers, old people hanging on and woefully inefficient farmers will be pushed out and…"

This part is true, but it won't be young go-getters who will gain control of the land. The system is already set up to aggregate the smaller parcels to be leased. Dollars to donuts those parcels will end up in large corporate hands(like Monsanto).

How do you spell neo-merchantilism? TPP!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I can't speak for anyone else but I would rather pay an extra 10% rather than eat some of the poison that passes for food.

I guess you aren't aware that Japanese crops are grown using the same chemicals which are used in America? You aren't aware that Bayer Crop Sciences is the contract supplier to JA? And that Bayer is a top chemical provider to American and European farmers?

I guess you haven't read the recent stories of foodstuffs around Japan which were supposed to be of Japanese origin, but were in fact from anywhere but Japan? American and Australian beef passed off as "wagyu", imported shrimp from the spotless waters around China sold as having come from Japanese waters, and tasty Japanese rice which was actually grown in America and sold in Japan for many years without anyone noticing the difference?

You have probably been paying 10% more for food which was no more safe, and in some cases, less safe than what is sold in America, which is home to more than half of the world's lawyers, and where people don't hesitate to file multi-million dollar lawsuits if they suffer a case of food poisoning which causes them to lose a week of work.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Enjoy your tasty monopoly-patented genetically-modified "rice" from the US.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Enjoy your tasty monopoly-patented genetically-modified "rice" from the US.

If you live in Japan, you have already tasted it, and probably enjoyed it as much as any Japanese. A surprising amount of the rice consumed in Japan is not of Japanese origin.

But to the corporations who will soon control this land, these people are obstacles.

Really? Exactly what will these evil corporations do with this land? As mentioned, agriculture makes up only 3% of the Japanese economy, and even if these corporations were to double the production of the farms, their return-on-investment would not be worth mentioning.

Do you think these greedy corporations will develop this farmland into housing subdivisions, or build factories? Who would live in the houses? who would work in the factories? You have to take into account the fact that the population of Japan will decline by as much as one-third by the middle of the century. Real estate prices will fall a similar amount, but farmland will lose more value than urban or suburban land.

I sincerely doubt big corporations have any interest whatsoever in this land. Take a look at the current real estate market in the countryside, and the cost of farmland, it can already be bought for a song. Out of curiosity, I looked at a traditional-style home with about 5 acres of land that was listed for sale in Shiga last year, and I was surprised to find that the asking price was half what I paid for my car, and my car was not particularly expensive.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The USA government wants its rice growers to have more access to Japan by encouraging the end of price supports in Japan. It is ironic because the USA government has price supports for peanut growers such as former President Jimmy Carter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Enjoy Monsanto!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ending quotas, encourages farmers to produce more ? If those are sold domestically, it will drive price down, good for Japanese. If those are exported, it will drive price down in that market. Now, if J-government is heavily subsidizing these farmers, then they are encouraged to produce even more to export more. Domestically, more pesticides, more fertilizers, more chemicals leaking into nature, bad for the environment. Internationally, Japanese rice can be bought cheaper, farmers from other countries will have new competition, encouraging them to also produce more, more pesticides, more fertilizers, not going to end well for the environment. I'd like for once government all over the world to start thinking about "the world" for once, and stop thinking about just their own land or people, I assure you we'll have a better world if we do so.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites