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Gov't warns low food self-sufficiency, global shortages may lead to drastic diet changes

34 Comments

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seems true, so better j-people adapt to Gandhian-way of living, though quite hard.

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Better get off those US beef import restrictions, increase fish farming subsidies, and offer bonuses for alternate energy source developments

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Why do Japanese people have to go with less? Some Americans (and some Britons too, to be fair) eat just about enough in one meal to feed a Japanese family for a day.

But it's true the farming industry needs radical reform in order to get big business involved. Farming in Japan hardly seems to have changed at all since the Middle Ages.

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Simon, that is an incredibily unintelligent thing to say, you're picking up the standard stereotypes again. And just to be fair, do you have any idea how much fruit and vegetables Japan simply throws away just because it isn't in absolute pristine condition?

At least in the US and Britain, they produce most of the food they require and won't throw away something that has a slight imperfection.

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It looks like that Australia can export to Japan meat from kangaroo,camels,wild pigs,wild horses...in the future.But on the other hand,meal comprised of rice,vegetable,fish sounds very healthy to me.

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The government must be relieved that the population is falling, thereby reducing the reliance on dangerous, imported food.

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do you have any idea how much fruit and vegetables Japan simply throws away just because it isn't in absolute pristine condition?

In my 15 years in Tokyo, I've yet to buy any fruit or vegetables that come near to being described as 'in pristine condition'.

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do you have any idea how much fruit and vegetables Japan simply throws away just because it isn't in absolute pristine condition? In my 15 years in Tokyo, I've yet to buy any fruit or vegetables that come near to being described as 'in pristine condition'.

If y'all wander into an organic grocery store in Japan and compare the produce, you'll discover that major grocery stores have incredibly 'pristine' looking produce. The organic stores have produce the majors won't touch because of a bruise, a mis-shape, 'off' color, or, godforbid, dirt.

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In my 15 years in Tokyo, I've yet to buy any fruit or vegetables that come near to being described as 'in pristine condition'.

Makes me wonder where you do your shopping.

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"no meat"

No problem for Cleo and the other vegetarians here, I'm sure.

:O

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"global shortages"

I'll bet most people in Japan could eat 20% less food without any ill effects. A lot of people would benefit from it.

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Sounds to me like the LDP tuning up to give yet another large shedful of taxpayers cash to some of their buddies in agribusiness.

If they had wanted to promote home food production maybe they shouldn't have encouraged so many of their other buddies in real estate and construction to fill in and build over tanbo over the last fifty years

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Sarge, I'll bet most people in US, Australia or Germany could eat 50% less food without any ill effects :)

but I would not worry about these countries at all, especially Japan. Let's not forget the rest of the world is in huge crisis for food even now, I don't wanna think what will happen in the future to countries in Africa or South East Asia if the food crisis deepens

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Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate has now fallen to only 39%

There is no problem then. It's sufficient. At the end of the day, my local supermarkets puts half of the food into the gomi. Then at home, people throw away 1/3 of what they buy.

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I'll bet most people in Japan could eat 20% less food without any ill effects. A lot of people would benefit from it.

sarge: Arent you the one on JT always giving the reports on everything on McDonalds menu? Talk about needing to cut back on daily food consumption.

This article is keeping in line with other recent ones that are intended to scare the beejeesus out of the public and get them to go along with the future decisions of the government to spend tons of money to increase the number of Japanese farmers and domestic agricultural output in the coming years, and I mean regardless of the cost. It is also intended to get people to think that they must start shifting back to a more "traditional Japanese diet" for the good of the nation, or something like this.

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God bless US beef.

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If Japan is sincerely concerned about food sufficiency, it should join an economic free trade bloc. That's what the Europeans and many others have done. Do you think Belgium is self-sufficient in food? This report is highly disengenuous. It's really about finding excuses for protecting and subsidizing agriculture, not ensuring a reliable food supply.

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Absolute garbage, plenty of food for everyone, industry is just holding back produce to control supply and demand and in turn jack up prices at he supermarket. Just like they do in the oil or diamond industries.

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jefflee...agree completely except you left out one thing: an economic free trade bloc THAT INCLUDES AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS...take a look at all japan's trade agreements...none include rice...none

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According to the UN, global meat consumption is set to double by 2050. That means that farm animal population growth is rising faster than human population growth.

The negative environmental impacts of the meat boom are numerous: excessive water usage, water pollution, methane emissions and deforestation.

Excessive meat consumption also increases the risk of cancer and other serious illness.

Add to this the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals, and you can see why a dramatic decrease in meat consumption is the best thing that could happen to any developed country.

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There's also that thing called Peak Oil, which should put self-sufficiency high on everyone's priority list.

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Every time Australia exports one kilo of beef, that's another 15,000 litres of virtual water leaving the world's driest inhabited continent.

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Then at home, people throw away 1/3 of what they buy

Excuse me. Should I read this as 'in your home'? It certainly does not happen in my home, or any home of my family and acquaintances.

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Fear raises prices, and causes people to pay no matter what. That's the bottom line.

Remember, it's often more polite here to leave some food left on serving plates than take the last piece. People can tone down with no problem at all.

But that's not the main point. If Japan is indeed in serious danger, it's Japan's fault. They have paved over heaps of rice fields for highways that have never even come close to escaping the red (and are covered 90% by taxes and only 10% by tolls), and people are so spoiled here that no one wants to do the hard work of farming (can't blame them, because sitting in an office doing nothing garners so much more). Finally, as has been said above, so much gets thrown away from the stuff left to rot in the field, to the supermarkets throwing things away at the end of the day, to the shoppers buying more than they can consume, that again... toning done won't hurt.

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Zarusoba, I do not doubt your good intentions, but your assertions concerning the production and consumption of meat are based only on presumptions. A doomsday prediction for the year 2050 is not very realistic. A lot can change in 4 decades. You are raising a few interesting points, but none are related to the subject matter, the lack of food self sufficiency in Japan. Japan used to have huge surpluses of rice which prompted the government to discourage farmers from rice production. As a result nation wide paddies twice the size of Tokyo have been abandoned for rice cultivation. The longer these lands are left uncultivated, the more difficult it will be and the longer it will take to make these lands fertile again. It is now the time to reverse policies to regenerate rice growing. There must be a way to subsidize agriculture, without disrupting trade agreements, as this will prove to be the most realistic solution, because it will not only provide less dependence on imports but also job opportunities.

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But that's not the main point. If Japan is indeed in serious danger, it's Japan's fault. They have paved over heaps of rice fields for highways that have never even come close to escaping the red (and are covered 90% by taxes and only 10% by tolls)

They have done this, they have done that Explain to me who they are. Paving over the rice fields is no big issue actually. It's more the rice fields that have been abandoned and laid to waste in the past decades. Japan, meaning its government with strong ties to the construction industry, may have been a little overzealous in constructing highways, something in which they lagged behind in respect to how fast the country was developing all of a sudden since the 1960s, still did provide a lot of job opportunities this way. It is so easy to criticize something. Certain public works never produce a profit. That's OK, that's why they are public works. Without them the hinterlands would never have proper access. Other public works are profitable, providing a balance. The lack of food self sufficiency has absolutely nothing to do with the construction of highways over the past decades. It has everything to do with changing agricultural policies: limiting the overproduction of rice and subsidies to the farmers.

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Why dont you simply put your observations together? Food production has decreased, because Governments everywhere are subsidising farmers, with your taxes of course, for growing bio-fuel crops. They call this: managing the oil crisis. Plus, there are more and more people living in third world countries, who have the nerve to actually want to eat! Plus, who would have thought that the people of China, f.e., suddenly want to heat heir homes, just because it is cold? Are you aware that the price for rice in Japan is almost 10 times as high as in Europe? Are you aware that ricefarmers are the main supporters and voters for the kind of political party that has been "governing" Japan for decades? So why dont you put all this together, and bow down to the authorities as usual, and pay more for your food?

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I'm not sure Japan should rely too much on fish. The oceans are being overfished and strained the world over.

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I had a soon-to-retire client ask me with pleading eyes today, "What will we eat when they have concreted over the last rice field in Japan?" His words, not mine.

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Simon, that is an incredibily unintelligent thing to say, you're picking up the standard stereotypes again. And just to be fair, do you have any idea how much fruit and vegetables Japan simply throws away just because it isn't in absolute pristine condition?

A very fair point about Japan throwing stuff away. But standard stereotypes? From Wikipedia:

The Health Survey for England predicts that more than 12 million adults and 1 million children will be obese by 2010 if no action is taken.

The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States makes obesity a leading public health problem. The United States has the highest rates of obesity in the developed world. From 1980 to 2002, obesity has doubled in adults and overweight prevalence has tripled in children and adolescents. From 2003-2004, "children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years, 17.1% were overweight...and 32.2% of adults aged 20 years or older were obese." Currently, about 119 million, or 64.5%, of US adults are either overweight or obese. The prevalence in the United States continues to rise.

I shouldn't have exaggerated, but tell me the problem doesn't exist.

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Yes Peak Oil will change it all. Japan is more insecure due to so many oil imports that it depends upon. As the middle east continues to destabalize and world oil drops, Japan's plastic existense will come to it's end as well as elsewhere. USA is in for as much a mental change as anyone else, but at least Japan has more town-like social connections.

The good news is there's a lot of land not in use in Japan that was one fertile and supported a variety of produce. But unfortunately such a plan would take actual work. I'm not sure the freeters would be inclined.

Time to leave oil before oil leaves you

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Japan just need to utilise it's land more efficiently. There's plenty of land in the mountains that just isn't used, full of cedar plantations (hardly bio-diverse) that could be cleared for sheep and cattle and, as has already been posted, so many paddies are just not used as small family-run farms are on the decline. In Europe and the States farms have grown in size as the more successful farmers have bought out their competitors. This has resulted in higher efficiency and lower fuel prices. It has it's negative aspects, of course, including soil erosion, increased use of fertiliser polluting the water table, lowered water tables, massively reduced biodiversity as habitats become increasingly monoculture (not too much of a problem in Japan - the paddies are already that) and depopulation of the countryside as a result of increased mechanisation (again, not a problem in Japan). Basically, if the LDP would get their collective thumb out and draw up a plan of action, the nation could increase food productivity massively in a relatively short time. It's just that in recent history it's been so cheap and easy to import.

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Sorry - a few typos - "need" to "needs" and "it's" to "its" on the first line alone. I don't normally proof-read before I press "post".

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In Europe and the States farms have grown in size as the more successful farmers have bought out their competitors.

I don't think that could happen in Japan, as I believe there are US Occupation era laws that limit the amount of land that can be owned. The law could be repealed, of course, but large-scale farming would be disastrous for the small-scale farmers, whom the LDP milks for votes (typically worth double the votes of urban residents) and repays with lots of subsidies and protection against foreign competition. Staying in power is much more important than making any sort of positive changes, after all.

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