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Japan draws up action plan to boost farm exports

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Japan has one of the lowest food self-sufficiency rates among major world economies, so let's export food!

8 ( +14 / -6 )

The government has set aside 9.9 billion yen in its initial budget for fiscal 2021...

The same government that continually says that "fiscal consolidation" (cutting back) is a top priority while forcing more taxpayers to fund a greater share of their medical costs out of pocket?

How many of these crops in Japan are harvested by armies Vietnamese and other developing world folks brought to Japan on 2 year visas especially for that purpose? How much will their numbers grow as Japan's farmers die off and few younger Japanese take their place? A crazy model of economic development, that's for sure.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

I am just curious where do they export apples and strawberries when the inner market price seems about the highest in the world.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Baradzed, Hong Kong and Taiwan are the two biggest markets for Japanese apples. They are often used as gifts for the Chinese New Year, so they don't care so much about the price.

JeffLee, have a friend in the apple exporting business and right now they are looking for new markets. The ministry of agriculture is helping them expand to India, so they are airlifting apples there at no cost to the the exporter, all in the name of finding new markets. My friend is quite happy to accept the free shipping and all the ancillary costs of promotion etc. being paid for by the ministry of agriculture, which of course means our tax dollars.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Lots of people missing the point here. The government wants to issue loans for aggri businesses to scale up production, for export. Seems like a good idea, but how many grand-mom n grand-dad will take up the offer is the unknown here.

If Japanese culture was more generous, the government would encourage small grandpama farms to train up international interns, forms coops, and increase production for the long run.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Absolute madness!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

The action plan designates 27 key agricultural, fishery and forestry items, also including apples and other fruit as well as seafood such as yellowtail and scallops, and sets export targets to be achieved by that year. It identifies specific markets where demand for the key items is high, and calls for efforts to better serve their needs.

I think that semi-manufactured (valued-added) food products should also be promoted alongside fresh, raw agricultural products. All ingredients don't have to be home-grown. Just for example, Japanese sweets and snacks are very popular and competitive in global confectionary markets while their main ingredients (sugar, corn, grain, etc) are largely imported from overseas.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

MarkX, thanks for the detailed explanation.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I’m all for domestic consumption!

Mine’s a steak dinner tonight!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

When I arrived here 30 years again, food security was about 60% now down to about 40%.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The government is getting priority wrong. What it should be doing now is to increase the country’s dismal food self sufficiency rate (currently less than 40%). In times of global crop failures and natural disasters, no country would export food to Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

How can they hope to do that when the cost of production is higher than in other countries - by throwing even more taxpayer subsidy money at farmers and fishermen, who account for less than 5% of the working population?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

As MarkX describes, this is another scam which is pushed as helping the countryside. These schemes grab headlines and benefit a few connected people, but do no good otherwise.

This beef will be raised on imported feed. There is nothing secure or sustainable about it. It also has a large eco footprint.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

As long as farm produce is not from Fukushima and surrounding areas.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@Peter Neil

Japan has one of the lowest food self-sufficiency rates among major world economies

Would you please let me know where you got that information? Thank you

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

@zichi

When I arrived here 30 years again, food security was about 60% now down to about 40%.

Would you please let me know where you got that information? Thank you

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

This is a really great idea. It's about time that farmers became more business focused. Yeah, I know farmers producing food for profit rubs a lot of people the wrong way for some reason but farmers need to make take home some money.

Japanese farmers need to move up the food chain and produce more high value products instead of concentrating on a cheap commodity like rice. Japan can easily import high quality rice, corn and other commodity crops that are better suited to broad acre farming. Japanese wagyu can capture a bigger slice of high value markets and push that fake Aussie wagyu and Snow Beef from Canada out of the market.

Let others produce the Corolla version of food, Japan can produce and export the BMW food.

In the long wrong it will save taxpayers a bundle because the country can get out of propping up rice production.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

The government is getting priority wrong. 

Not really , the govt rolls out ' action plans' and other schemes / programs to help agriculture sector pretty much annually here ...its ' priority ' more than anything really is ensuring the JA farmers continue to deliver votes to LDP at election time ensuring its perpetual rule here. Been like this forever.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Just another cheap ploy from the LDP leadership to placate its election base.

More distribution of export subsidies so the Japan produce can be sold at bottom price abroad while , Japanese residents and citizens pay triple or 5 times the prices charged abroad.

Anyway more unrealistic numbers export numbers to unrealistic markets.

Also, in the end somebody needs to eat the product and nearly all the target markets have declining populations.

Hongkong? Unlikely to be a growth market. Taiwan ? Europe ? Certainly not fruit and vegetables.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

pfaulkne -

Re food security I recall something in my old grey matter along these lines.

Food security for a nation was sometimes based on a caloric intake per person necessary for sustaining adequate health etc.

Decades ago Japan was still predominantly a heavy rice producer and consumer, and rice has a high caloric value.

This probably skewed the data to look rosier than it really was. Now rice production / consumption is down so naturally food security ratings have fallen.

As I recall. Someone with more knowledge may be able to add to or correct this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Rice production is the worst crop for the environment. Methane and nitrous oxide released from rice paddies needs to be curtailed or face a heavy carbon tax. Fruit trees, on the other hand sequester carbon.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Somebody needs to explain the concept of comparative advantage in international trade to the Japanese government and why it doesn’t have one in agriculture. Because this makes no sense as an investment if your goal is to actually help Japan’s overall economy.

This looks like nothing more than further evidence of the oversized influence that rural areas have on government policy.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@rainyday I don't know how long you have been in Japan but the market has shifted quite dramatically in North America, Europe and othe high income countries. Not everyone buys their groceries at Wal-Mart.

1 Consumers are demanding higher quality and are willing to pay for it. 2 Consumers are looking for an "experience" when they eat. 3 Thanks to COVID people have rediscovered cooking at home. Instead of a couple spending $200 at a restaurant, some consumers are willing to spend $200 in the ingredients for one meal that they prepare at home. 4 Some consumers demand sustainable, gluten free, GMO free, glyphoste free, dairy free apples hand picked by a farmer in his help underwear and are willing to pay the price.
-1 ( +2 / -3 )

There's a misprint in the headline. Surely it should read, "LDP to expand vote-buying program in rural areas with extra subsidies and third world labour".

What's the vote disparity again? One vote in Niigata is worth 3.15 in Kawasaki, something like that?

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Great news as long as products are INDEPENDENTLY tested for ionizing radionuclides.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

pfaulkne

@zichi

When I arrived here 30 years again, food security was about 60% now down to about 40%.

Would you please let me know where you got that information? Thank you

That is a most common question from you.. 26 posts over 10 years ?

Try Google, many sites and reports.

Japanese is one of the largest importer of wheat, accounting for 5% of world trade.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This looks like nothing more than further evidence of the oversized influence that rural areas have on government policy.

That is true of almost every country there is.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Rice production is the worst crop for the environment. Methane and nitrous oxide released from rice paddies needs to be curtailed or face a heavy carbon tax. Fruit trees, on the other hand sequester carbon.

In arid California rice growing is seen as highly beneficial. The fields are effectively replacements for the wetlands that were drained in the Sacramento area to make way for farming, helping to maintain many bird populations. In wet years the fields become settling basins where excess water can percolate back into local aquifers and replenish them while taking some strain of spring floods off the levee surrounding the many rice growing islands in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River deltas.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Alfie Noakes Agrifood exports from Japan have doubled in the past 10 years to around US $5.5 billion annually and are set to continue to expand by at least 10% a year as demand for high quality food looks to continue. This is a great opportunity for Japan to capture even more markets.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Who cares about food security when you got Amazon!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

dairy free apples 

https://theprettybee.com/vegan-caramel-apples/

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The best food security for a country like Japan with a limited arable land base is to have lots of friends and have some cash.

The food supply is as long and complicated as any other supply chain. Everyone should be very relieved that there were no major disruptions in the supply chain this year. But. There was not a wreck anywhere in the world this year, supplies are in good shape but there has been a really strong run up in food commodity prices over the past few months. China is buying, and buying and buying. As the world supply is in good shape folks are trying to understand the run up in prices. Some think it is because China is rebuilding their hog herd after having euthanized millions of animals last year. China has slapped punitive tariffs on Australian barley but grain is like water and flows everywhere. Canada and other countries are supplying the surging Chinese barley demand and Australia is supplying markets that those countries usually supply. Others suspect that the grain stocks that China have been reporting for the last few years have been overstated and or those stocks are not fit for consumption. The harvest reports from Russia were not at all bad but Russia is threatening to implement an export tax on Black Sea wheat which has given the market more drive. Some think there is a bit of panic buying going on as no government wants hungry people and they may have concerns that COVID will yet disrupt the supply chains. Supplies of grains are flying off the shelves as fast as the boats can be loaded.

The Japanese food supply should be fine as Australia just completed a record wheat harvest and Canada had a large high quality crop. Still, might not hurt if Japan filled up all this port side silos as a reserve. The apple supply is fine.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@rainyday I don't know how long you have been in Japan but the market has shifted quite dramatically in North America, Europe and othe high income countries. Not everyone buys their groceries at Wal-Mart. 

1 Consumers are demanding higher quality and are willing to pay for it. 2 Consumers are looking for an "experience" when they eat. 3 Thanks to COVID people have rediscovered cooking at home. Instead of a couple spending $200 at a restaurant, some consumers are willing to spend $200 in the ingredients for one meal that they prepare at home. 4 Some consumers demand sustainable, gluten free, GMO free, glyphoste free, dairy free apples hand picked by a farmer in his help underwear and are willing to pay the price.

Admittedly I’ve spent most of the past twenty years in Japan so I’m out of touch with the trends in North America. Still though I don’t think this is a good idea because:

A) by definition, trends change. American hipsters are a fickle bunch.

B) Even if American consumers have a newfound taste for five dollar apples, it won’t be hard for American producers to start making five dollar apples. Japanese producers have costs (shipping, etc) that American ones don’t, so they’ll always be at a disadvantage. This also applies to demand for GMO free, organic, etc, which American farmers can produce if there is sufficient demand.

C) While there might be some niche products where Japan has a recognizable “brand”, like Kobe beef, and where it might make sense to promote it, that doesn’t really apply to most of the stuff they seem to be promoting. Nobody outside of Japan cares about its various local specialty products (or at least not-enough people to make a difference).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Apple varieties are intellectual property and receive patents, many filed by Japanese breeders. The US does grow Fuji apples but the quality sold in supermarkets is not as high as those grown in Japan. That could be because Japan is managing to stay ahead in the apple patent race. Hong Kong is a great market of well-healed consumers who demand high quality Japanese apples, meat and other agrifood products.

You are probably right about hispsters but Americans spend a lot of money on fancy French sparkling wine from a certain region just based on name and marketing. Why can't Japan do the same for sake, uneshu and whiskey? Most liqueur stores in North America now stock sake and some shōchū.

Wagyu is the same as Champaign. American, Australian and Canadian beef that comes from the same breed can't be sold as Wagyu, which is why that beef is called Snow Beef in Canada. Snow Beef is pretty darn good but again does not have the same level as marbling as Wagyu. Is people are willing tp spend more for sparkling wine called Champaign they are willing to pay a higher price for "real" wagyu beef.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In my humble opinion best apples come from Nagano.

Japan is developing strains of rice which are more pest resistant, need less water and release less methane.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@proxy - I totally dig your posts. Japan already have a plethora of high value added food exports, eg Kewpie, take a stepback and you have eggs. Japanese eggs are the only eggs I know of that you can eat raw straight from the carton.

Japanese shoyu is the tastiest on the planet, take a stepback soybean. Mochi, kombu, white wines, wasabi, ....

IMHO, the list is endless, tourists pays through the nose to eat Japanese foods, let's give them home options as well. It's time the government encourage family farms to go big or handover to immigrants.

The current situation is no better than subsistent farming, yeh, yeh, lifestyle lure so young couples make more babies etc. but it is not working, so time to go big or go home for the aggri sector.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was genuinely asking for the source.

But you are right, I do ask that question, but only on a subject I have extensive knowledge. When someone posts something I have not found, or believe is different from my understanding, then I wish to follow-up, learn and see why there is a discrepancy.

 

And I will continue to ask the question. All I want it the poster to give a credible reference or citation on their source of information, unless they are actually stating an opinion.

If you are looking for facts on this subject, I suggest not google but here:

 

The Japanese Government Official e-Statistic site, in English.

https://www.e-stat.go.jp/en

Or may be even here.

http://www.stat.go.jp/english/index.html

 

If you want to get really interesting, try using the data from the Self-sufficiency ratio for food in calorie base report and see if you can find a positive correlation between its decline and the decline in the population or the Gross agricultural product report or the No of people engaged in fisheries report.

 

Or go here to see the same source data in another way from an independent source.

https://japancrops.com/en

 

You can even download the original data and import into a statistical analysis program like IBM's SPSS Statistics

https://www.ibm.com/products/spss-statistic

Or Microsoft Excel if you have to.

 

Now, how about that source?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My self sufficiency mode is at Amazon with a credit card.

Food self sufficiency is not necessary for any country unless the govt. is paranoid.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Apple varieties are intellectual property and receive patents, many filed by Japanese breeders. The US does grow Fuji apples but the quality sold in supermarkets is not as high as those grown in Japan. That could be because Japan is managing to stay ahead in the apple patent race. Hong Kong is a great market of well-healed consumers who demand high quality Japanese apples, meat and other agrifood products.

I actually grow my own Fuji apples (just one tree tough).

I’m not really sold on Japan becoming an apple exporter though, I don’t know the patent situation (which implies they are GMO BTW) but if its a patent thing then the more sensible business plan would be to license the IP to American growers to produce for the US market rather than growing them in Japan where costs are much higher.

You are probably right about hispsters but Americans spend a lot of money on fancy French sparkling wine from a certain region just based on name and marketing. Why can't Japan do the same for sake, uneshu and whiskey? Most liqueur stores in North America now stock sake and some shōchū.

Wagyu is the same as Champaign. American, Australian and Canadian beef that comes from the same breed can't be sold as Wagyu, which is why that beef is called Snow Beef in Canada. Snow Beef is pretty darn good but again does not have the same level as marbling as Wagyu. Is people are willing tp spend more for sparkling wine called Champaign they are willing to pay a higher price for "real" wagyu beef.

I don’t dispute that there are niche markets where Japanese products can get a foothold. But they are just that: niche markets. Japan has a lot of other areas where it competes at scale in large markets, so I’m just questioning the wisdom of focusing government resources on promoting an industry where Japan has very very limited prospects for growth.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

https://www.maff.go.jp/e/annual_report/2009/pdf/e_1.pdf

The food self-sufficiency ratio that they’re always on about, can be interpreted in different ways. For calorific self sufficiency, the national figure is around 40%. But in terms of the total value of all food, domestic as well as imported, domestic production accounts for around 70%. Be mindful too that the 40% self sufficiency figure includes, at one end, Tokyo and Osaka (1% and 2%), and at the other, Hokkaido (200%) and quite a few other prefectures that top 100%.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

pfaulkne

I was genuinely asking for the source.

Looked at the links you posted but couldn't see anything relating to Food Security.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio on calories basis was 79 per cent in 1960 and had declined continuously reaching 39 per cent in 2015.[6]

https://www.indrastra.com/2017/07/Japan-s-Food-Security-Problem-Increasing-Self-Sufficiency-in-Traditional-Food-003-07-2017-0029.html

4] Kako, Toshiyuki (2010), “Sharp Decline in the Food Self-sufficiency Ratio in Japan and its Future Prospects”, Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology, 4(3):102-110.

The long-term decline of Japan’s self-sufficiency in food continues. Last year, the food self-sufficiency in calorie terms fell to a record-low 37 percent — meaning the nation covered less than 40 percent of the food it consumes with domestic output — and the government’s target of boosting the ratio to 45 percent seems as distant as ever. 

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2019/08/20/editorials/japans-falling-food-self-sufficiency/

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#country/110

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@rainyday All varieties (most) of all crops grown are intellectual property regardless of how they were bred. The variety of rice a local farmer in your area grows is the intellectual property of the breeder. I'm not sure if farmers pay the royalty directly when they purchase rice seedling or if the rice seedling grower pays it when they purchase seed and pass it on the farmers. The only variety of apple on the market anywhere in the world that is GMO is the Arctic apple.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The majority of rice varieties grown in California were developed at the taxpayers expense at UC Davis and therefore are free for all to use.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of the things that makes California and Australian rice varieties unique is that they are grown in laser leveled fields using very little water. 20 cm deep water is all they need. The fields are planted from the air so the stalks are very densely packed and when the rice is ready to harvest, the fields are drained and the rice harvested mechanically with big combines.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One of the things that makes California and Australian rice varieties unique is that they are grown in laser leveled fields using very little water. 20 cm deep water is all they need. The fields are planted from the air so the stalks are very densely packed and when the rice is ready to harvest, the fields are drained and the rice harvested mechanically with big combines.

Not much different than what happens here. No water shortage in most places. Water diverted from rivers. Shallow depths for rice growing. Planted and harvested by machines. Rice seedings are planted by machines.I think annual crop is about 8 million tons.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Back home I can get apples one tenth of the price in Japan, And yes, they're delicious. I don't need to throw money away. But yeah, there are some rich Chinese who are willing to part with loads of cash. Go right ahead.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

zichi - yes your correct - there are similarities between rice production in Japan & OS, but it is the differences that are much more significant.

Intensively farmed, small plots (average 1 hect?), with each farm having their own expensive machinery is way way out of internationally competitive league - which is one reason for the heavy govt. subsidies over the decades.

As others noted, the export market is good for wised-up entrepreneurs and should realize many small healthy businesses, but they will only ever be niche market oriented. They will not be the saviour of the agricultural industry in Japan.

And as a consequence of export focusing to the detriment of the domestic market, a rise in the real price of the same goods will eventuate for local consumers.

I know of the Lobster industry in Australia that went down this path. Years ago lobster was pricy for Australians but still affordable and commonly eaten. Once the goldmine niche market of east-asia esp Japan, Hong Kong, China opened up, prices went through the roof and have remained like that for decades meaning a once enjoyed commodity by the locals became a rarity. Funnily enough prices have come down to half recently because of China's misguided trade bans.

Japan's only way to ensure a relatively "partial" domestic food security, is to allow larger scale holdings / co-ops, using skilled well paid local / migrant workers in conjunction with advanced technologies.

One apple tree producing a very limited number of "perfect" fruit will not an industry save.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Baradzed, Hong Kong and Taiwan are the two biggest markets for Japanese apples. They are often used as gifts for the Chinese New Year, so they don't care so much about the price.

JeffLee, have a friend in the apple exporting business and right now they are looking for new markets. The ministry of agriculture is helping them expand to India, so they are airlifting apples there at no cost to the the exporter, all in the name of finding new markets. My friend is quite happy to accept the free shipping and all the ancillary costs of promotion etc. being paid for by the ministry of agriculture, which of course means our tax dollars.

 

To add to that, mikans (satsuma oranges) are exported to various countries, such as the USA. They are grown in various parts of Japan, for example, Matsuyama, Kagoshima and the Shizuoka/Shimizu areas, among others.  Nihon no nashi (Japanese apple-pears) are also grown in various areas, for example, in the Tottori region. In my book, both of these fruits are “oishii”.  Depending on the destination country and its agriculture requirements/quarantines, specific fruits need to be free of specific insect pests (certain fruit flies, scale insects ...) and plant disease organisms (citrus black spot...) By the way, the US exports a massive amount of cherries from Washington State to Japan. Japan even sends some representatives from MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries) to Washington State to help oversea the packing and export process.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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