【Research】Formation of Japan’s food security policy: Relations with food situation and evolution of agricultural policies

                                                                                                                                   August 1st, 2017
Norinchukin Research Institute Co., Ltd.
HIRASAWA Akihiko, Senior Chief Economist


Japanese people have been able to reach the current level of food consumption by increasing imports of agricultural products due to its limited farmland resources. As a result, however, Japan is exposed to a risk of overreliance on importation of food. Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio can be regarded as an indicator of the risk. Every food crisis suffered by Japan since the mid-twentieth century was caused by disrupted import or restricted export by trading partners. Around the end of the Pacific War, the Japanese government was required to take food-supply control measures in various ways because of a severe food shortage deteriorated by a poor harvest of the staple rice in the country, which even endangered a continuous rationing for the people. In 1973, when the so-called “soybean crisis” was provoked by an embargo on soybean exports imposed by the United States in the normal times, the Japanese government implemented emergency measures to stabilize the domestic soybean market as well as secure stable imports of soybean and other farm commodities. At the same time, furthermore, large-scale international cooperation for agricultural development was initiated by the government and development of a world food supply-demand model was launched as well. The existing Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas Basic Act enacted in 1999 provides that the basic principle of the Act should be primarily to secure a stable food supply for the public. Some of the emergency measures implemented in past years were developed into measures to be taken in normal times in preparation for future emergencies according to the degree of the emergency. Other measures have been improved in a direction toward reducing various factors of instability and uncertainty that take place with higher frequency. Although Japan’s food supplies are partly dependent upon the importation from other countries, the country has been maintaining its supply capacity of minimum food for its people with domestic agricultural production that is within the national sovereignty. In recent years, however, Japan’s agricultural production base has been revealing its vulnerability, in which situation it is now vital for the country to restructure its production base in order to cope with trade liberalization and a future decline in its population.


This paper analyzes a historical outline of how Japan’s existing food security policy has been formed since the Pacific War (1941-45) ended, by tracing back changes in the situation surrounding the Japanese food security (Note 1).

The food security is a fundamental factor of the agricultural policy in Japan that is not…Link reading

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