【Booklet】Beginning of agricultural cooperatives <Agrarian reform ②> ( February 6, 2016)

Lone struggle of Matsumura, Agriculture Minister

After the war, farmers to reclaim the unused land for food production

After the war, farmers to reclaim the unused land for food production

In October 1945, 4 days later after appointment of Kenzo Matsumura, Agriculture Minister, the draft of the agrarian reform (draft of Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) had been completed. Shiro Tohata( 1907 ~ 1980 ), Agricultural policy manager, mainly created it. The draft consists of three main points as follows;
1) to establish owner farmers, 2) to change tenant payment in kind into cash payment, while maintaining of controling tenant farmlands and own farmlands, 3) democratic reorganization of municipal agricultural land committee (Committee members consist of each 10 people of landowners, owner farmers, and the local tenant farmers, elected by sectors. Chairman elected committee members.)

This is outline of the first agrarian reform, the same content as amendment draft of Agricultural Land Adjustment Law. However, limit of holding area was yet undecided.
Regarding holding area, the controversy between the minister and the officials had occurred. Matsumura, Agriculture Minister, had the opinion that “All farmer must be owner farmer.” ” Absentee landlord must transfer all farmland, which should be forced to transfer to tenant farmers. Resident landlord also must transfer farmland in excess of 1.5ha.”

In contrast, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials persuaded the Minister saying, ” Limit of holding area of resident landlord should be 3 hectares. Radical reform would be impossible given the situation.” At last, the Minister Matsumura was persuaded. The drafts were decided that ” Limit of holding area of resident landlord is 3 hectares.  Tenant payment in kind into cash payment in fixed rate.” Thus, the draft of the agrarian reform of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (the first draft) was solidified.
Ordinarily, after bureaucratic sides create the contents of law, the Minister amicably revises them while considering the political situation at the time. But   regarding agrarian reform, the Minister claimed vigorously, bureaucratic sides were turned to suppress it desperately.

In November 1945, reform draft was authorized in the Ministry. Tohata, agricultural policy manager, went to General Headquarters (GHQ) of Allied Forces. Leonard, agriculture director responsible for natural resources (NRS), and Gil Martin responsible for farmland responded. Tohata felt that GHQ side had a favorable impression on the draft in this case. However, GHQ did not mention its opinion.

Journalist of Chicago Daily Newspaper of the United States was waiting for Tohata who returned back to the Ministry. The newspaper reported by telegram to the homeland that Japanese government had voluntarily planned the agrarian reform. This US article was hit back in Japan and placed on the Japanese newspaper. It was publicly known for the first time, that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry had been proceeding agrarian reform secretly. There were occurred arguments for and against.

Conflict insides Cabinet regarding owner farmers

Agrarian reform bill was submitted to Cabinet. Facing oppositions by conservative ministers, its deliberations had difficulties. It became the lone struggle of Matsumura, Agriculture Minister. The center of the problem was limit of holding area of tenant farm of resident landlord. Matsumura hoped strongly the decision of the draft of 3ha, since the compromise from the limit of 1.5ha. Opponents adamant claimed that “This is a violation of private property rights”. By the mediation by Shidehara, prime minister, it was forced to compromise to “5ha”.

In September 1943, 5 agricultural organizations such as sangyokumiai (cooperatives) and nokai (chamber of agriculture) were consolidated to create nogyokai (agricultural institution). During the war, based on the Food Control Act enacted in 1942, nogyokai functioned as agency of food collection. It was a complete national policy institution. At the end of the war, in flowing rumors of mainland decisive battle, in July 1945, nogyokai was reorganized into “senjinogyodan (wartime agriculture group)”. Kotaro Sengoku was appointed the group’s governor, but the war was over in the next month.

GHQ, in December 1946, noticed the “Memorandum of Understanding on control system” to the Japanese government. The memorandum required change of the way of distribution system by specific organizations which had been granted the privileges exclusively. It pointed out the function of nogyokai. As a result, fertilizer distribution Corporation was installed. Nogyokai was deprived of many of the business areas such as distribution of fertilizer, farm equipment, and agricultural chemicals, by abolition of centralized distribution management. The main food collection business also became required registration.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry could not disobey the policy of the GHQ. But, under the food situation of distress, radical change of food collection mechanism was supposed to cause large confusion. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry repeated negotiate with GHQ, and at last continued existence of the Food Control Law was recognized.

Reference = Tokio Kimura “Kenzo Matsumura, Biography Edition” Sakuradakai, Shiro Tohata and Takio Matsuura,”Showa agricultural policy story” Ienohikarikyokai, Agricultural Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, “Nogyokaishi (History of agricultural institution)” Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

【Booklet】Beginning of agricultural cooperatives <Agrarian reform ③> (February 13, 2016)

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