We should actively convey the message that by promoting food security policies, we can protect Japan's agriculture, its environment, and society, and contribute to the issues of the global environment and population.Member of the House of Councillors Hon. Kanehiko Shindo https://www.shindo-kanehiko.com/
Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate has dropped significantly from 73% in 1965 to 38% in 2020. We are implementing various policies and budget appropriation from the viewpoint of raising the food self-sufficiency rate and establishing food security. Specifically, we are increasing supply of domestically produced soybeans and wheat as strategic crops, promoting measures for replacing imported feed with domestic feed, and subsidizing rice that is converted to rice flour in order to expand rice demand.
Food education (Shokuiku) is also important. In preparation for drawing up the Fourth Basic Plan for the Promotion of Shokuiku, we are further promoting local production for local consumption and examining in depth the relation between global environmental issues and food self-sufficiency.
To support Japan’s agriculture and secure our food supply capacity, it is necessary to maintain our agricultural resources (farmland, water, etc.) and enhance our human as well as technological resources. We also need to take into consideration local characteristics when we try to reinforce the functionalities of each type of resources. The agricultural resources found in each locality are unique to that locality, and it is of utmost importance to secure a budget for land improvement to strengthen the functionalities of those resources.
I think there needs to be a policy change from one that has laid too much emphasis on price of rice to one that prioritizes maximization of farmers’ income. Against the backdrop of a decreasing demand for rice as a staple food, there is a need to adjust production to consumer demand and to promote public and private initiatives, including expansion of rice exports.
It is also essential that we introduce ICT (information communication technology) and AI to cut production costs as much as possible. By raising Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate, moreover, we can reduce carbon emissions, have less impact on the global environment, and thereby contribute to addressing the issues of the world’s population.
I have conversations on these topics with students in primary schools upwards and with citizens. We should actively send the message that by promoting food security policies with producers in tandem with consumers, we can protect Japan’s agriculture, its environment, and society, and contribute to the issues of the global environment and population.
Interviewed in：December 2020
※The titles shown are those held at the time of interview.