Japan’s agricultural population drops 400,000 to 1.36 million in 2020, posting record high fall

TOKYO, Nov. 28 – The number of people in Japan whose main occupation is farming totaled 1.361 million as of Feb. 1, declining 396,000, or 22.5 percent, from five years ago, according to the 2020 Census of Agriculture and Forestry released on Nov. 27.

The rate of drop was the biggest since 2005 when comparable data became available, largely reflecting the aging of the farming population.

Meanwhile, the cultivated acreage per farm topped 3 hectares for the first time, indicating growth in farm size.

The number of people mainly engaging in agriculture have been decreasing constantly, with the pace of decline accelerating.

The agriculture ministry attributes the decline to the aging population. The average age for such people was 67.8 this year and the ratio of those aged 65 or over reached 69.8 percent, up 4.9 percentage points from the 2015 census.

“When they become over 70, many tend to give up farming or reduce the size of their business to the extent that they no longer become subject to the survey,” said an official of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Census Statistics Office.

The number of agriculture management entities nationwide totaled 1.076 million, down 302,000, or 21.9 percent, from the previous survey. The rate of drop was larger than 18 percent over the previous five years, showing the pace of decline is accelerating.

The number of family-run entities was 1.037 million, dropping 303,000, or 22.6 percent, while that of large-scale organized entities totaled 38,000, up 1,000, or 2.6 percent.

The statistics clearly indicate the trend of farms expanding their size along with the decline in the number of full-time, motivated core farmers.

The cultivated acreage per management entity was 3.1 hectares, up 21.5 percent from 2.5 hectares in 2015.

The Census of Agriculture and Forestry is conducted every five years on all agriculture management entities nationwide. The ministry released the round figures of the results and will release the final figures in March or later.

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