U.S. says Japan must negotiate on rice to join TPP talks

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  • 5

    yokatta

    Ohhhh boy, good luck on that!

  • 7

    sfjp330

    The average Japanese farm is less than 5 acres, compared with about 440 acres for the average U.S. farm and many farmers are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. Most Japanese farmers have very little money, no youth, and no future with majority of Japan’s farmers that are senior citizens. Due to an aging farmers, J-goverment has to make tough decisions for their future. The country side Japan's farmers is already approached some sort of dead end by the result of depopulation, trade liberalization and depleted government handouts. Japan now nation that now imports over 60 percent of its food. A change in TPP agreement with U.S. could be the end of inefficient rural commercial rice farmers in Japan.

  • -19

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    You do not want to import US rice.. or let them jam GMO products down your throats... it would be the beginning of the end of a great protected food culture in Japan.. once that stuff comes in.. it is food genocide.

  • 20

    sfjp330

    Kimokekahuna HawaiiFeb. 21, 2013 - 08:02AM JST You do not want to import US rice..

    Average working people in Japan is not having it easy making ends meet on a daily basis. Let people in Japan have choices between buying Japanese rice and California grown rice. The cost will be reduced by 50 to 75 percent over same 10 kilos of rice and the taste is not bad. Some people will gladly want to save money for quality California rice.

  • 11

    choiwaruoyaji

    Japanese farmers are great at PR... they can easily portray TPP as the big bad foreigners out to destroy Japan's "rice culture".

    But the problem for them is not foreigners but young Japanese... they all eat bread...

  • 1

    bass4funk

    @Kimo

    You do not want to import US rice.. or let them jam GMO products down your throats... it would be the beginning of the end of a great protected food culture in Japan.. once that stuff comes in.. it is food genocide.

    And your proof of this is....

    Where do you get this information?

    Don't you think before making statements like you should provide legitimate proof, otherwise, you are going on pure speculation.

  • 10

    Hide Suzuki

    @sfjp330

    "Let people in Japan have choices between buying Japanese rice and California grown rice"

    Exactly, we can't continue the current protectionism forever. I know there are many Japanese who are opposed to TPP saying that Japanese don't want to eat ride from foreign countries.

    Well, if they are so confident, then that's more of a reason why we should open the market and let the consumers decide what they want.

    It's ridiculous that the government is trying to protect aging farming industry, which accounts only 1% of the GDP, while the rest of 99% has to put up with it. I'm totally ok with California or Australian rice.

  • 4

    Ewan Huzarmy

    Isn't it all these old farmers and rural folk who put Abe into power ? What will they think of him after he joins the TPP ?

  • 3

    ohayo206

    down with tarriffs!

  • 0

    Debucho

    are rice farmers that important? How many are there? 2,000 or so? Why decide a countries policies based on 2,000 people? This is silly.

  • -6

    falseflagsteve

    @Debucho. There are far more than 2,000 farmers and i wish people would educate themselves on what free trade is. It is for the benefit of corporations not the normal person. You may find some things for sale cheaper for a while but in the end you will have less choice and poorer quality foods. Foods that we eat now will be considered luxury and will cost far more. Food safety is brought down to the bottom line. It is not free trad BTW! People please read up about this, don't let them con you anymore.

  • 22

    sangetsu03

    Japanese have to spend nearly three times as much of their income for for food than Americans do, and they spend more than twice as much as Europeans do. The extra money which must be spent on food cannot be spent on other goods, which is certainly not good for the economy at large.

    Car imports are another issue, there are no tariffs on imported cars, but all imported cars must undergo an inspection/ certification process which is time-consuming, even for cars which are built in countries which have more stringent safety regulations than Japan.

    And let's not forget the bureaucratic/industrial collusion which keeps retail prices for imoported good high, even when a 40% stronger yen should result in far less expensive imports. The current system takes advantage of the average Japanese person's aversion to making complaints.

    Japanese rice costs 5 times as much as American rice, Japanese cameras and televisions cost as much as 40% more in Japan than they do in America. An imported car in Japan costs more in 2013 than it did in 2007, even though the yen is 1/3 stronger. It costs 3 times as much to see a movie in a theater in Japan than it does in other countries, a pair of leather shoes or a leather bag cost more than double than what it does in Europe or America. The list goes on and on, it's amazing how hard a country of people can be screwed and still not complain about it.

  • 0

    eye

    @Debucho

    are rice farmers that important? How many are there? 2,000 or so? Why decide a countries policies based on 2,000 people? This is silly.

    For the ruling party it is. Due to the way representatives are elected, rural voters have more "power" over city voters. It's easier to sway 1 farmer to vote for you by protecting his livelihood than trying to convince 3 city dwellers who may not even show up to vote.

  • 4

    kiwi07

    But the problem for them is not foreigners but young Japanese... they all eat bread...

    And they don`t want to work on the farms and in the fields. Which is why the average age of a Japanese farmer is reported to be 65.

  • 6

    sfjp330

    Many Japanese people would not have have considered buying California or other imported rice in the past, but that is changing now. “The label "Japanese domestic-grown" doesn’t really have the same status, especially after Fukushima. For most foreign growers, export to Japan are all but shut out by a 778 percent tariff. Since 1995, the J-government has imported about 700,000 tons of rice tariff-free annually, most of which it diverts to uses that do not compete with Japanese rice, like livestock feed and emergency stockpiles.

    Some imported rice has always been used discreetly by cheap restaurants, bento lunch makers and others. With the downturn in economy, majority of Japanese food companies are interested in using imported rice if it were available. Problem is that Japanese farming lobby, which has strong political clout, remains opposed to an opening up. For farmers in and around Fukushima, the interest in foreign rice could not have come at a worse time. But it show how far Japanese consumer attitudes have changed over the past years. Actually, some of the top California rice taste better than Japanese brand.

  • 12

    Bogi

    I find the whole protectionism debate regarding rice in Japan rather contradictory. Every Japanese person I have spoken to says they would choose Japanese rice over foreign rice, no matter what the price. Apparently it's far more "superior." If that is the case, why does the Japanese rice industry need to be protected?

  • 7

    marcelito

    Well, this is going to go down just swell with the LDP fossils that got elected in rural districts at the last election. Abe will have to show some strong leadership within the party on this . alas I can just hear the chorus rising " Need..more ...time,...study,...consultation...J rice...unique....culture....blah blah.."

    As has been pointed out countless times before - if J-rice is so amazing ,than it has nothing to fear from " inferior taste" imported rice sitting on the next shelf. Let the consumer decide.

  • -6

    falseflagsteve

    Here is another lesson for the pro free traders who only thinking about buying cheap rice and cookies etc. If this led to massively cheap prices which would please and benefit the J consumer the LDP would take all the credit and would have many more votes. The reason they don't do this and get the credit is because it is not as simple as all that, not just some farmers would be hit.

    I ask people to look at what free trade has done to places like the EU,! It is just the start of a downward spiral of lower standards of living. The corporations and their paid for puppets will go on about cheaper products etc and it seems like people are falling for it hook line and sinker. These are the types that caused the banking crisis and made many here who support free trade poorer.

  • -2

    FightingViking

    @bass4funkFeb. 21, 2013

    @Kimo You do not want to import US rice.. or let them jam GMO products down your throats... it would be the beginning of the end of a great protected food culture in Japan.. once that stuff comes in.. it is food genocide.

    I am not "Kimo"but I believe he/she may have read the following article :

    5 shocking things we eat every day (as did I...)

    And your proof of this is...Where do you get this information? Don't you think before making statements like you should provide legitimate proof, otherwise, you are going on pure speculation.

    "Many of us view rice as a pretty safe, healthy food; however, studies have suggested that it may also contain unsafe levels of the toxic substance arsenic. One study has suggested that one in five packs of American long-grain rice contain potentially harmful levels of the toxic substance, while others have reported concern for the levels of arsenic in rice milk and baby rice". January 12th 2013.

  • 0

    Noliving

    Japanese have to spend nearly three times as much of their income for for food than Americans do

    Considering how much healthier Japanese seem to be compared to Americans, cough obesity cough, I would consider it money well spent.

  • 0

    humanrights

    Blablabla. Never been to a Country with SO litle choice of Rice! i am tired of JP rice, its boring. I see ridiculously small pieces of land used to farm rice in Industrial areas, non-sense really. Thats what Fair trade is, share imports and exports dont Monopolize the Market with ridiculous excuses. Or simply dont be part of it and stay backward in the world like usual.

  • 5

    sfjp330

    falseflagsteve Feb. 21, 2013 - 09:13AM JST The reason they don't do this and get the credit is because it is not as simple as all that, not just some farmers would be hit. I ask people to look at what free trade has done to places like the EU,! It is just the start of a downward spiral of lower standards of living. The corporations and their paid for puppets will go on about cheaper products etc and it seems like people are falling for it hook line and sinker.

    If you look back on U.S. and Japan trade during the 80's and 90's, Japan was exporting over 2.3 million vehicles annually, and U.S. exported to Japan around 10,000 vehicles a year. The ratio of export from Japan to import of U.S. vehicles to Japan was 230 to 1. Did Japan ever care of self restraint in export of cars during this time? Japan didn't care if excessive export destroyed U.S. industry. Now Japan is concerned because they are afraid of current 778 percent in rice tariff might be dropped in fair trade? Let consumer decide.

  • -3

    Nancy Foust

    US grocery prices have gone up to about double what they were around 2006. We also have more and more problems with contaminated foods (e coli, lysteria, salmonella) and the general quality of many products has gone down to increase profits. About 70% or more of the food in the typical grocery store is produced by a handful of big agriculture/food conglomerates that own most of the major food brands. Be careful what you ask for. That corporate food supply will only be cheap until they are entrenched and then it will become expensive again.

  • -3

    falseflagsteve

    @sfjp330

    You are not understanding my point at all. TPP will be bad for all countries and is ONLY there to increase corporate profits and in fact salaries in real terms go down as has done when free trade is implemented. BTW the US subsidises big time in a discreet way and is very protectionist.

    The US government allowed and wanted cheap imports of Japanese vehicles which made the US car industry weaker and the unions lose much power. The loses Japanese companies have incurred by the US making the Dollar almost worthless lately are not in your equation because you and most do not want to see the full picture and have your head turned by the promise of cheap rice and cookies. Don't be fooled, same guys who want this crashed the banking system, bunch of crooks.

  • 0

    sfjp330

    falseflagsteve Feb. 21, 2013 - 09:37AM JST You are not understanding my point at all. TPP will be bad for all countries and is ONLY there to increase corporate profits and in fact salaries in real terms go down as has done when free trade is implemented. BTW the US subsidises big time in a discreet way and is very protectionist.

    Then tell me what is so good about the current farming situation in Japan? The J-goverment is having difficulty sustaining subsidies to the farmers. Annually, J-goverment paid over $46 billion in subsidies to its farmers and this is not substainable. Japan has among the highest subsidy and protection rates in the world.

  • 2

    Moonraker

    Just because there are problems in the US markets does not make the excuse for keeping Japan as it is. It is because America too is not a free market when bloated producers dictate what is on sale. But a market must be regulated to work efficiently and America has plenty of anti-trust (anti monopoly) laws to ensure that. Because of the power of these producers the regulators across the board (from food safety to environmental protection to free competition) have been compromised. But the situation in Japan is even worse. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    A subject dear to my heart is beer. Why was it that when the yen went up that imported beer (some of it even classed as happoshu because it is wheat beer) hardly got cheaper and seemed to even decline in variety in supermarkets here, while more products tasting blandly the same but in different cans from the same Japanese producers increased? Consumer driven? Or control by Japanese producers? Free market?

  • 5

    paulinusa

    US organic rice would probably still be less expensive than Japanese rice.

  • -4

    mtwildman

    Except for 'Cali'...most of the US rice is GMO or raised w/less than decent agricultural methods...the US is a pain in the rear the way it dictates how the world should be run...every time i return here [US] i feel sickened by the ethics and cultural paradigm's that make this country 'tick'.

  • 8

    Nessie

    The average Japanese farm is less than 5 acres, compared with about 440 acres for the average U.S. farm and many farmers are finding it more difficult to make ends meet. Most Japanese farmers have very little money, no youth, and no future with majority of Japan’s farmers that are senior citizens.

    All of this is evidence that rice farming is more of a subsidy sponge and tax dodge than a productive industry. Five-acre farms can't profit at 800% tariffs? Then who needs them?

  • 6

    sfjp330

    Japan has already made a habit of appearing to open up its economy through trade agreements and then immediately enacting manufacturing policies that maintain its protected status quo. Their TPP negotiations has already been entirely counterproductive. However, there is much that U.S. and Japan economies have in common, and can mutually benefit from one another. Manufacturing in general, and the automotive and electronic industry. They are critical to Japan. If two economies can forge a fair and balanced trade relationship, There is no doubt that these and many of other shared industries will experience long-term growth. But as of now, the U.S. economy cannot trust Japan's trading policies. U.S. cannot move forward until Japan opens its markets.

  • 2

    Chin4Sailor

    “We aren’t going to begin the process by saying, ‘Oh yeah, you get to have certain protected sectors or issues,’”

    Absolutely... You want in Japan...? You have to play by the same rules as everyone else... No special treatment... I mean, you been getting your way on trade with the U.S. for the last 30 years, sorry, no more, it has to end.. Play by the same rules as everyone else....

  • 0

    JeffLee

    Abe and his gov't clearly want to break the spirit of the TPP. Japan shouldn't be allowed to take part in the first place.

  • -1

    bass4funk

    @fightingviking

    however, studies have suggested that it may also contain unsafe levels of the toxic substance arsenic. **One study **has suggested that one in five packs of American long-grain rice contain potentially harmful levels of the toxic substance, while others have reported concern for the levels of arsenic in rice milk and baby rice". January 12th 2013

    So where is this study, which article?

  • 0

    Debucho

    first off people use the word corporate profits like it is a bad word. it is not. i am all for corporate profits. but if the Japanese are so confident their rice is better than everyone elses, why do they need to protect it?

    Kobe beef is a good example. There are Ausie and American beef imports much cheaper, but even I as an American am happy to pay 3X more for Kobe beef because it is FAR better. If rice is the same like Japanese say, let the competitions begin.

  • 0

    falseflagsteve

    @ Debucho.

    This is not just about rice and beef that is a tiny part that "they" want you to see. It is not corporate profits that are the problem here but corporate control of what we eat mostly. The corporations are not pushing for this out of the kindness of their hearts, it is to increase control and actually restrict all products down to a small number that they own. People think something free or something cheaper is great and they will benefit. Nothing becomes cheap without a cost. Look at the EU, this all started with free trade.

  • -2

    tokyobakayaro

    1 - A country produces own rice and does not need foreign rice.

    2 - Free trade. Cheaper rice and vegetables.

    3 - Local farmers sell less. Bankrupt businesses. Fewer local rice.

    4 - Foreign rice overtakes local rice. No more local rice producers.

    5 - Exporters of foreign rice control prices and quality. You depend on them. They make the price, you pay.

    You think it is the future? Actually, It already happened in the past. This short example comes from a report from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about Haiti. Americans killed local rice producers and they want to do that in Japan. When a country eat mainly rice but has not more local producers, it becomes dependent on imports. This is just bad.

  • -1

    SamuraiBlue

    Debucho

    Kobe beef is a good example. There are Ausie and American beef imports much cheaper, but even I as an American am happy to pay 3X more for Kobe beef because it is FAR better. If rice is the same like Japanese say, let the competitions begin.

    Nope since what you are probably eating is US beef branded as Kobe beef. Japan lodged a protest but was not able to place an injunction because there was no set standard of what Kobe beef was.(Product of Origin) Now the US, Australia and other beef producing nations are labeling Black short horns that their DNA originated from Japan as Kobe beef without having spent any of it's life on Japanese soil nor had gone through any of the high standard Japanese style care-taking of the cow.

    This is the reality of free trade is.

  • 1

    Simon Foston

    A change in TPP agreement with U.S. could be the end of inefficient rural commercial rice farmers in Japan.

    Unfortunately it just works out too well for LDP politicians in rural areas (e.g. Shinzo Abe) to have lots of important voters belonging to an industry that is totally dependent on government protection for survival. Farmers who could make a profit by themselves might not see the need to vote LDP any more, and that would just never do.

  • 1

    FightingViking

    @bass4funk

    So where is this study, which article?

    Article: "5 shocking things we eat every day" Source : "Japan Today" 12th January 2013.

  • 2

    SuperLib

    "The Dangers of Foreign Rice" stories to being in 3....2....1....

  • 0

    Xeno23

    Meh; it's a bargaining chip. The US Gov has to shout about it in order to appease US farmers; then they can shrug their shoulders. And even if Japan does lower restrictions on US rice - is the public gonna bite? Look at what happened with US apples: barriers dropped, Washington apples came in; everyone agreed they sucked; no one bought them - end of story. Everyone knew that would happen, except maybe the Washington apple lobby; symbolic gesture - proof in the pudding.

  • -2

    bass4funk

    @fightingviking

    One study has suggested that one in five packs of American long-grain rice contain potentially harmful levels of the toxic substance

    First of all, it says ONE study and the second they are talking about "long-grain" rice. Which is NOT something that the Japanese eat a whole lot of.

    http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/nutri/matter/2007-10-organic-rice.asp

    Change Agents

    The same use of pesticides is practiced throughout the world. Some synthetic pesticides and fertilizers inadvertently poison beneficial as well as harmful animals and birds.

    This is from that article.

    There are many other varieties of rice, in particular, organic. There are many options in the US, you don't have to eat rice that is laden with Arsenic. You do have choices. Also Europe and Asia are not without having a certain amounts of poisonous chemicals in some of their rice as well.

  • 1

    Jack Stern

    Generally speaking, I've eaten California rice and compared the taste to good Japanese rice. I find the Japanese rice to be very tasty in comparison to the US type such as Cal Rose. Although not extremely different in flavor, it does taste better. Price wise, some may find they can handle the difference if the money spent is that wide apart. Then again, there are differences in the age of the rice and the blending. I'd leave it up to the consumer here to decide. They may buy it at first here but may switch back if not satisfied.

  • -7

    YuriOtani

    So the USA wants to close down most of the farms in Japan. We are going broke as it stands. How will we begin to feed ourselves when the small farms go away and the money runs out?

  • -1

    Ina0891

    Rice is a strategic commodity , it's essential for the Japanese , in case of a war in the region , it's very important to be able to rely on your own food production .

    Besides , some people make it sound like Japan is the only country that enforces protectionist measures , but the US has been criticized repeatedly for the same thing towards China and the EU these last years , the fact is the temptation for more protectionism is on the rise worldwide because of slower growth globally and willingness for many nations to protect their industry or agriculture

    Free trade is good only when it promotes growth and jobs in any given country and does not threaten the exctinction of its industrial and agricultural infrastructure , the price for the consumer is just one (short term ) aspect of the problem . It benefits both sides as long you trade with countries following the same rules and having similar wage policies and living standards , but when it is totally unregulated it , "Wild free trade" leads to de-industrialization of entire regions which causes massive unemployment and social disasters as it is happening in Europe right now

  • 0

    Jan Claudius Weirauch

    In the end politicians make a lot of talk, talking around the actual subject especially in Japan where there is not a lot of direct conversation as by culture, but in the end they always fall on there knees to accommodate the request of the big brother USA - which would be a good thing in this case, in my opinion.

    They can't join the talk because it would give a lot of publicity to the entire thing, rather make a backdoor deal which is less great but not as "loud"

    Japan will join, not yet, but in future. Worst case would be - Abe has to step down, he has to so anyway at some point. Also the rural voters have nobody else to act in there interest but the LDP - unfortunately.

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    Japan needs to improve internal economic inefficiency first before considering TPP talks.

    The current Japanese system is not ready and set up for global competitiveness. It will wipe out Japanese jobs at the end. .

  • -3

    smithinjapan

    There is absolutely NO reason why Japan should not open up the market to foreign rice, and any argument they try to make against it is feeble at best, and actually an argument FOR Japanese products:

    1) "Japanese rice is better!" -- how would that change by allowing people more options, if true?

    2) "Japanese farmers won't be able to compete" -- that is a problem for the farmers, and not necessarily true. It will open up competition for Japanese rice abroad, and no doubt many here will still buy the 'superior' Japanese rice. If the bottom line is that they actually cannot compete, it's time for them to retire for the benefit of their nation.

    The only argument by the farmers and people opposing Japan joining the TPP is: If you say yes, we won't vote for you again (or donate money). So the politicians are in a bit of a pickle; alienate a source of votes and/or funds, or choose what's best for the people, including those against the TPP.

  • 0

    jamestoday

    Japan is too conservative to change the big issues. No need to worry about the negative side for opening rice market too much. It is the time to consider how to reform rice industry and make it effective in order to export rice to other countries.

  • 0

    LAcajun

    Rice farming in the Southern US has been going for more than 300 years, along with wild rice known to have been harvested by native Indians thousands of years earlier. Louisiana and Arkansas produce more than 60% of the US rice and most farms are still owned by local families.

    Louisiana farmers can produce two crops a year with the added benefit during the winter months the fields are flooded to raise the famed Louisiana crawfish along with leasing the land for waterfowl hunting during the same period.

  • -3

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    study GMO.. most of the corn in America is GMO.. seeds of destruction.. soybeans.. many many products are controlled by a company whose name I will not mention because they will hunt down and kill you if you start exposing them.. I live on an island that is now the #1 grower of genetically modified corn.. and you realize the US beef is fed.. GMO corn.. cows do not eat corn.. it fattens them up for market .. but cows eat grass.. most of the corn in America is going for feed.. and what do you think they are feeding farm raised fish?... this is not about SMO.. I dont have the time or the patience to educate people who throw accusations at me for stating the obvious.. someone is getting paid off to import crops that Japan does not need.. although rice from Fukushima might be tainted..

  • -1

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    If I dont grow it.. or if I dont catch it.. I dont eat it.. If you let other people control the food.. they control you.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    Kimo: "I dont have the time or the patience to educate people who throw accusations at me for stating the obvious.."

    The thing is, I could feed you rice from California and TELL you it's from Japan and you would not know the difference -- people who make comments like yours, that type A is above and beyond superior to B without rhyme or reason, are usually so biased they always fall into that kind of trap. The argument that Japanese rice, as with crab, melon, and various other 'superior' foods, is better than the rest of the world's has been proven wrong in taste tests again and again, with Japanese 'professionals' as well as celebrities and 'tarento' mistaking Hokkaido crab with crab-flavoured pollock (kamaboko), a $3 melon from another country with a Yubari melon, etc.

    Say it's made in Japan and watch people like yourself pause in the first bite and shout, "UMMMMAI!" Truth is foreign rice is just as good, and some brands a lot better.

  • 0

    YankeeX

    Japan needs to stop kidding itself as new markets are desperately needed for it's overpriced priced products. Japan needs this more than America, and America knows that! The days of having your cake and eating it too, are over. Anyways, it's up to Japan to decide!

  • -1

    YankeeX

    Oh yea, how do you defend an industry who struggles to survive with a 800% subsidy? LOL

  • -1

    Tyler Vandenberg

    Yes, Japan must protect its Rice Agricultural Cooperative bureaucracy. The "wise and selfless" bureaucrats who control rice farming in Japan know best, and even though Japan's powerful organization of agricultural cooperatives has a longstanding "one person, one vote" system would never favor the part-timers, giving them a disproportionately strong voice in the organization. Having 1,000 part-time farmers would never be more preferable to having 10 full-time farmers. When they retire from their ministry, because of their "wise and selfless" service many bureaucrats become active in politics. So now more than one-third of the Liberal Democrats in the Diet are former Farm bureaucrats.

    A sprawling and bureaucratic distribution system would never dissipate farmers’ earnings. It would never leave farm incomes depressed despite the heavy protection they receive..... Everyone needs to see that US rice farms have an unfair advantage because they don't have to support the weight of a giant Agricultural Bureaucracy on their heads. So the next time you eat Japanese rice remember all the bureaucrats that worked so hard to make the price just high enough, to support themselves and the Rice farmers.....mmmmmmm the taste of corruption savor it, thank you JA

  • 2

    Open Minded

    This rice issue is not a trivial issue.

    This not only an economical matter. This has to do with thousands of years of traditions and still some farmers are living very modestly in rural areas that become deserted for the Tokyo megapolis.

    This cultural asset cannot and should not be killed overnight to satisfy the US farming industry where it is only an economical matter. And where food culture is a totally unknown word.

    Having said that, for sure this traditional - not to say folkloric - farming system must evolve. Farms consolidation, mechanization, ... I have no doubt that the other TPP applicants will grant significant grace period to Japan to adapt if there is a clear plan.

    Last but not least. I am convinced that local companies are using rice farming as a pretext, not to admit they fear competing against other countries. In other words, rice farmers are the convenient alibi not to move forward the rest of the economy.

  • 2

    Open Minded

    Ewan:

    Isn't it all these old farmers and rural folk who put Abe into power ? What will they think of him after he joins the TPP ?

    Can you explain me how the farmers (5% of the national workforce) could put Abe into power in an 80% urban country? Even though the electoral system would give 3 times more weight to rural areas, Abe has been elected by urban citizens! Like it or not but this is a fact.

    Framers are definitely the convenient responsible group to justify anything that happens in Japan.

  • 1

    falseflagsteve

    Japan does not need this globalist trash, it needs to carry on the good work of devaluing the yen, that is how exports will look more attractive and revenue increases. Some may complain that some imported stuff costs more, so what, compared to before imports are bargain priced. I think the only people on here who want this are those who swallow what the mainstream media says and those on low incomes who think this will give them a few more coins in their pockets.

  • 0

    timtak

    Japan, is like many countries, in terms of area of land, mainly rural. Take a look at Google maps satellite view.

    But unlike many industrialised countries, there are still also many more people living in Japan's rural areas. While Japan has a high rate of urbanisation (i.e. the rate at which people are moving from the rural regions to the cities) Japan is still less urbanised than most OECD countries (or about as urbanised as Ireland for instance) due to the governmental protection, or due to the lack of the rapid decimation of rural regions that took place, for instance, during the UK industrial revolution when peasant farmers were sacked en masse. Japan has, till now at least, never had that en masse sacking of farmers.

    The rural regions in Japan may be rolling in agricultural subsidy but are also in other ways hard pressed. Many of the farmers are old. Hospitals are a long drive away. The young guys that that stay behind to take over farms can't persuade Japanese women to stay in the countryside. Going to the countryside is like going back in time. The land is getting cheaper and cheaper. Farm houses, at least without rice land, mountains, and coastal properties (I have bought three) can be had for a song. Sometimes regional communities farm houses away if you agree to come and live there.

    Culturally, it seems to me, the urban Japanese are significantly different (Westernized? De-culturalised?) from the regions that retain the culture that has existed in Japan for a long time. The rural regions retain the culture, the fire, the passion, and or the self-abnegation, that enabled Japan to take on the Western world in the Meiji period, and fuel the "economic miracle" in the post war period. Urban Japanese are on average far less motivated, often aspiring to be paper pushing, take-it-easy, kanri, rent-takers.

    I think that gender has a lot to do with the change. Being male in Japan has become progressively less cool. In the rural regions the males had traditional roles, in the home and festivals, that made them appear as role models to at least their male children. But in cities, fathers have become salary men, and only salary men: money providers. Children of both sexes admire and aspire after the "manager" (maneja-, kanrinin) role of their mother.

    (On either the "shakai" or "dead fukuzawa" mailing list) someone claimed that periods of Japanese economic advance coincide with the times when rural Japanese came to (industrial) towns. I take that to mean that when Japanese who have traditional Japanese values and work ethic, join the modern/technological workforce then they achieve the miracles that have been seen in Japan in the past.

    The TPP may destroy Japan's rural areas, by putting many rice farmers out of business, but it may also mean that the 'last the samurai', as it were, the last Japanese come to shake up the Japanese economy. I hope that they shake it up well and good.

  • 0

    Open Minded

    Very nice post timtak!

  • -2

    Open Minded

    YankeeX

    Oh yea, how do you defend an industry who struggles to survive with a 800% subsidy? LOL

    First of all I think you should get out of your cozy life and see how hard these farmers work. They do not just produce rice, but maintain landscaping and take care of remote areas where nobody would go to do this job. Paying "specialized" companies with sub-sub contractors would cost much more for a worse result. In case of TPP, it can be overcome by allocating direct payments for the valuable side services provided to the community.

    They deserve at least a minimum of respect.

  • -2

    Open Minded

    YankeeX: Just forgot to mention the obvious: rice farming and landscaping is NOT an industry.

  • 2

    YankeeX

    Open Minded :

    Farming is agriculture and is an industry, I don't know anything about landscaping in Japan but I do know they receive government subsidies which come from the pockets of tax payers.

    I also know, the amount of subsidies they receive depends on the amount they produce or rather, DON'T produce. Where is the sense economically in that? Farmers receive more to produce less.

  • 2

    YankeeX

    Oh yea, JA accounts for roughly 5% of Japan's GDP. I suppose I don't have respect in allowing them to hold Japan hostage in their interest!

  • -2

    hummusand

    Don´t do it Japan. DOn´t be a puppet Abe. For many reasons Japan would be better not to join TPP talks now. Keep the rice. Protect it, especially if USA wants to export GMO rice to Japan. No thank you. American laws are far too lenient on GMO. THere is one problem. Look at EU. Once there became free trade, EUrope collapsed like a stack of cards. People are protesting in Bulgaria because of lowered standard of living. Most of Europe is in a mess. This could happen with TPP. Farmers in Japan will get crushed and then there would be no farmers left and that´s not good either.

  • 1

    YuriOtani

    My point is Japan is not competitive in exports due to the continued high yen. No competitive in food or anything. Japan does not have enough resources and thus has to import. Japan needs to import gas/oil and even more since the atomics are offline. How is Japan going to pay for all of these imports? Once the industrial and farming infrastructural is gone what will we do? How will people buy anything with no income? The rich keep it for themselves. The rich sent it to China as investments and for buying product. If this keeps up Japan will become a land of a very few ultra rich, few middle class and many poor and hungry.

  • -1

    AkariYoshida

    "must" ??? i don't see what gives Obama and Congress the right to tell Abe and Japan what they MUST do

  • 2

    sfjp330

    Anyone who has followed many of the Japan's policy decision cannot help but notice that many Westerners actively seek to belittle Japan. Seems like every policy success by Japan is automatically discounted the West.

  • 1

    nigelboy

    Not many people are aware that U.S. does export short grain rice to Japan under Minimum Access policy which in essence, have the Japanese government buy U.S. rice without tariffs. However, there aren't too many buyers despite the low price and the inventory just keeps building and building where they are eventually sold for feed or disbursed to other countries in a form of an aid.

    Therefore, removing tariffs, IMO would not have that much of a drastic effect on the demand of Japanese produced rice nor would there be a flood of U.S. rice being imported to Japan for some of the California farmers are already limited in terms of producing just enough for their own domestic market.

  • 1

    sfjp330

    nigelboy Feb. 22, 2013 - 06:30AM JST Therefore, removing tariffs, IMO would not have that much of a drastic effect on the demand of Japanese produced rice nor would there be a flood of U.S. rice being imported to Japan for some of the California farmers are already limited in terms of producing just enough for their own domestic market.

    If that is the case, why don't the Japanese consumer decide and drop the almost 800 percent tariff? Maybe the U.S. should impose 800 percent tariff on Toyotas imported from Japan.

  • 4

    nigelboy

    If that is the case, why don't the Japanese consumer decide and drop the almost 800 percent tariff? Maybe the U.S. should impose 800 percent tariff on Toyotas imported from Japan.

    Consumers? Why should they care? I think what the Japanese government should do is remove the tariff and stop this Minimum access BS which is costing taxpapers quite a bit of money for storage cost and eating the financial losses when sold for food additive, feed, and foreign aid.

  • 1

    sfjp330

    nigelboy Feb. 22, 2013 - 06:48AM JST Consumers? Why should they care? I think what the Japanese government should do is remove the tariff and stop this Minimum access BS which is costing taxpapers quite a bit of money for storage cost and eating the financial losses when sold for food additive, feed, and foreign aid.

    I think the Japanese goverment should do is to remove aging farmers subsidy that total $46 billion annualiy. Why should average citizens get penalized for higher price of welfare farming subsidy. It's a waste money.

  • -1

    wipeout

    @YankeeX:

    I also know, the amount of subsidies they receive depends on the amount they produce or rather, DON'T produce. Where is the sense economically in that? Farmers receive more to produce less

    The same kind of thing is happens elsewhere. Rice in the United States received billions of dollars in subsidies, and some people even get them when they grow nothing at all:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/01/AR2006070100962.html

    Japan grows rice to feed its own population, not to dump on world markets. You may object to the high price, but there is at least a level of public support here about paying more for the domestically grown product over importing the cheapest thing available. If Japan's rice farming sector is destroyed by American imports, do you imagine Americans will lose even a night's sleep over it?

  • 1

    sfjp330

    wipeout Feb. 22, 2013 - 09:03AM JST The same kind of thing is happens elsewhere. Rice in the United States received billions of dollars in subsidies, and some people even get them when they grow nothing at all: Japan grows rice to feed its own population, not to dump on world markets. You may object to the high price, but there is at least a level of public support here about paying more for the domestically grown product over importing the cheapest thing available.

    There is a difference. Here is the problem with Japan. Japan imports 60 percent of her food, and U.S. imports around 10 percent. Japan depends extensively on imports for their food. If some of these Japanese farmers not growing anything, the least they could do is to grow other types of crops for their needs. The selected California rice is comparable to best rice in Japan, so let the consumer decide if they want to pay five time more or have 50 to 75 percent savings by buying U.S. rice.

  • 3

    nigelboy

    I think the Japanese goverment should do is to remove aging farmers subsidy that total $46 billion annualiy. Why should average citizens get penalized for higher price of welfare farming subsidy. It's a waste money.

    I wholeheartedly disagree. For any nation, it's worthwhile to maintain some levels of self sufficiency when there has been cases where exporting countries have stopped shipments due to poor climate and/or political reasons.

  • 0

    JeffLee

    ** If Japan's rice farming sector is destroyed by American imports.... **

    Huh? Vietnam and Thailand would be the biggest enemies of Japanese farmers, not the US. Those 2 countries are the world's biggest rice exporters, with really low labor and other costs, and they're really pumped about being in the TPP.

    Gotta love how Zenchu and others play up the threat from "white countries," whereas the real threaten sits in its own Asian backyard.

  • 0

    falseflagsteve

    @JeffLee, free trade doesn't work like that as history has shown. The poor countries end up the biggest losers while the average person in each country is a loser after a while.

  • -2

    JeffLee

    @falseflagsteve,

    Free trade doesn't work like that as history has shown.

    Modern free trade agreements, called FTAs, haven't been around long enough to make that judgement. The early ones were NAFTA in 1994, and the EU's economic integration.

    Funny how ASEAN, on its own, is enthusiastically moving toward free trade among members, isn't it? Don't they realize they and their workers will all end up as "losers," as you say?

  • 0

    Grinkamban

    Who want to eat japanese rice after 2011?? Scary that ppl dont seem to understand or care. All about Money money money money.

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