Other Global Economy 2023.09.15
Policy Council Releases “Interim Report” Full of Contradictions
The Government will review the Basic Law on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in the name of strengthening food security. At the end of May, the Council for Food, Agriculture and Rural Area Policies, an advisory body to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, released its Interim Report. In line with this, a bill to revise the Law will be submitted to the ordinary Diet session next year.
As can be seen from the food crisis in the immediate aftermath of World War II, it is the agricultural community, including farmers, that benefits most from a food crisis. Yet, it is also the agricultural community that has been the most enthusiastic and vocal advocate of food security and increased food self-sufficiency to prevent food crises from occurring. They have taken such an approach because they thought it would help increase agricultural protection.
Again, the recently-released Interim Report stresses the possibility of a food crisis claiming that Japan’s economic position has declined to the point where it can no longer afford to buy grain and other commodities, and calls for the expansion of domestic production of wheat and other products. However, it does not mention anything about the policies that could starve most of the population to death in the event of a crisis. This is because any attempt to implement food security policies that are truly necessary for the Japanese people would undermine the interests of the agricultural-community.
The WTO negotiations failed, and the TPP negotiations have avoided a drastic reduction in agricultural tariffs. The Interim Report aims to turn back the clock from the Basic Law on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas of 1999, which emphasized structural reforms in agriculture in response to trade liberalization, to the policies implemented in the 1960s through the 1980s to protect farmers in a blanket manner by supporting prices.
Raising prices will put pressure on poorer households. It will become increasingly difficult to negotiate tariff reductions on agricultural products in trade negotiations. Policies to develop agriculture and rural areas while lowering food and agricultural prices have not been considered. This is because such policies will hurt the interests of the agricultural community.
Both the past agricultural administration and policies and the recent Interim Report are a mass of contradictions. The government seeks to exploit the argument for food security, which should have been intended for the people and consumers, for the vested interests of some in the agricultural community. As a result, the actual policies implemented significantly harm the interests of the Japanese nation. The agricultural community, while clamoring for food security, has been promoting policies that would cause many people to starve to death in the event of a food crisis.