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Japan's agriculture


28 Jul 2003
Why is it that difficult for Japan to liberalize it's agricultural markets? I know it's partly for political reasons that the ruling party wants to retain support from the farmers. Any other possible explainations or views?
Farms in Japan ae not the highly mechanized super giants like in the US (mainly). Families still hold small plots of land that they farm in addition to their normal jobs. Older people also still rely on the farm subsidies to supplement their pension payments from the government. Since the economy is in such bad shape, now even the pension system is in trouble. Removing farm subsidies in Japan would destroy many nest eggs. Also, the cost of energy and transport is so high in Japan, the only way Japanese farming could survive is to make huge highly mechanized company farms that can opperate at low cost. Doing so would eliminate a lot of income for many rural residents and further impoverish the already depressed rural economy. More people would be forced into the cities looking for work, compounding urban sprawl and crowding. There is also the cultural connection many Japanese people feel with Japanese rice and their land, even though half of people in a taste test couldn't tell the difference between the same type of rice grown in Japan or overseas. When it comes down to it, to compete in the supermarket, what this is really all about anyway, to meet the foreign prices for the same product it seems that Japan would have to liberalize its farmers out of exsitence.
Thanks for the wonderful insight you have given me with regards to this issue Mandylion!
Just curious to know more about it... what do you know of Keidanren and Kezai Doyukai and their stand on liberalization of Japan's agricultural markets? I think i've read somewhere that they are advocating the liberalization process but i'm trying to understand from where are they coming from. Any idea?
I'm not really familiar with specific party stances. I'm sure they have some stuff on the web you could track down. Sorry.
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