Japan sets up group to get young people excited about farming

TOKYO, Dec. 18 — The agriculture ministry has set up a working group to discuss how to make farming an appealing career choice for the young generation amid the sector’s widespread labor shortage in Japan.

The move coincides with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launching “work-style” reforms as part of his high-profile administration’s agenda.

The job offers to applicant ratio in the agricultural sector was 1.63 in 2016. That was higher than the average of all industrial sectors at 1.39, pointing to a labor shortage in the agricultural sector.

As Japan’s population of older people is growing at an unprecedented rate, the farming industry is facing a severe shortage of young talent, agriculture ministry officials said.

The working group consists of 10 experts, including an agricultural high school teacher, an agricultural entrepreneur and a labor and social security attorney.

The group will conduct questionnaires from a wide range of farming enterprises and farmers, and analyze successful cases that give sufficient returns for labor and capital.

The members will meet about 5 times before publishing a report, which will include a series of recommendations, in March 2018.

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