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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 16:51 05/26/2008
News Review #447: May 26, 2008

World Looks to Japan's Rice Mountain to Ease Crisis

Reviewed by Takahiro MIYAO

World Looks to Japan's Rice Mountain to Ease Crisis
AFP (5/25/2008)


According to the AFP news article linked above, Japan appears to be able to "kill two birds with one stone" in the rice field, so to speak. That is to export rice from Japan to needy countries in order to ease food shortages in such countries facing the world-wide food crisis. At the same time, domestically stockpiled foreign rice could be disposed of, not in a wasteful way, but in a productive or humanitarian way. So, this looks like a very good idea for Japan and the rest of the world.

However, things are not as simple as that, because Japan's rice market has been, and still is, strictly regulated in order to protect Japanese farmers, and Japan's rice imports are done, subject to rigorous agreements with foreign countries so that Japan may not export imported rice to the third countries. In addition, agricultural interests are quite cautious of modifying any international agreements unilaterally. In this regard, therefore, it is good news that the U.S. has agreed to allow Japan to export its rice to the third countries like the Philippines, where the price of rice is reportedly declining in anticipation of increased rice imports from Japan in the near future.

Then, one of the remaining problems may be possible complaints or protests by other rice-exporting countries whose interests are against declining rice prices. These and other problems can arise from the fact that the rice market is regulated and, therefore, distorted. The only solution would be to do away with regulation altogether, but that is not politically feasible. Thus, Japan must bear with possible side effects of the seemingly good idea to kill two birds with one stone in this field.

This review is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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