Japan’s farm minister pledges ‘support’ to JA self-reform

TOKYO, Nov. 23 — Japan’s Agriculture Minister Ken Saito has said he will spare no effort to help the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives, known as JA, the nation’s largest farmers’ group, to carry out self-reform.

“I have a strong expectation for the JA group’s self-reform,” Saito said in his first policy speech at a Nov. 22 agriculture committee in the lower house of parliament, following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent landslide election victory.

“The agriculture ministry will follow up each step of their self-reform and I will spare no effort to help them bring real change for the benefits of farmers,” he said.

Abe has trumpeted the transforming of Japan’s protected agriculture sector, and JA group has been a prime target of the prime minister’s structural changes to prop up a fragile economy.

Saito also stressed a growing demand overseas for Japanese food, and the ministry will aim to increase food exports with initiatives, including helping producers get halal certifications and lobbying foreign governments to remove trade restrictions.

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