Japan’s municipal governments see 20% decline in agriculture, forestry and fisheries staff numbers

TOKYO, May 29 – The number of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries staff at local and prefecture governments keeps declining. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, the number of officials in charge of the primary sector in municipal and prefecture governments dropped by more than 20% in 15 years. In 2019, the number of officials in general administrative jobs increased slightly, but the officials working to support the primary sector declined notably. It’s essential to enhance local governments’ structure, train more individuals, and improve work efficiency to solve problems and assist people in the primary industry. Yet the reality is vise versa.

The statistics are based on a survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. In 2019, the number of persons handling agriculture, forestry, and fisheries affairs in city/town/village governments dropped 27% to 30,000 in the last 15 years. The number of personnel in the same function in prefecture governments dipped by 24% to approximately 50,000. In both cases, the figures are down by more than 10,000. Also, the number of experts working as instructors in prefectures declined 33% to about 7,200.

On the other hand, the number of officials increased slightly in both municipal and prefecture governments in the last five years. The decline in the numbers of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries handlers is an ongoing and common problem among all municipal governments.

In rural development, it’s essential to visit the site and grasp the reality and needs of each village. The farm ministry is concerned that the systemic flaw of the local governments “can make it harder for them to understand and solve the local problems (Rural Development Bureau)”.

So, the ministry established a committee of experts to discuss the future of Japan’s agricultural policy. One of the hot topics of the meeting will be creating a system that can cultivate human resources capable of handling local problems. By doing so, the ministry intends to ensure that local governments, local agricultural cooperatives (JAs), and other regional organizations can effectively support local farmers’ actions.

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