Japan’s food self-sufficiency in calorie terms dropped for the first time in six years due in part to agricultural output dipping significantly after unfavorable weather conditions.
This is, however, not the whole story.
The Japanese government has sought to open its agricultural market for growth, yet it has remained negligent when it comes to food security.
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has, since the beginning of 2013, sought trade liberalization via a series of free trade agreements: Japan-Australia economic partnership agreement (EPA); the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); and most recently the Japan-EU EPA.
Those agreements were reached on increased market access for foreign farm products in Japan, in exchange for Japanese autos in overseas markets.
One major concern is that the government is still lacking a policy on food security during this period of rapid market opening.
The Abe administration has focused on structural changes in the agriculture sector.
But who gains the most?
Tokyo has created schemes that only make it easy for large firms to start the agribusiness and buy out farm land, while diminishing the vital role of the Agricultural Cooperatives nationwide.
The Abe administration has pledged to boost the calorie-based rate of food self-sufficiency to 45 percent by fiscal 2025.
In order to reach that target, several questions arise: How are we going to form our agriculture policy? Is it the right path to go ahead with the proposed plan to overhaul the agriculture sector as it is?
Given the low rate of food self-sufficiency, it is high time to reflect on these questions.