The Appropriate Revision of the Basic Law on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas: Problems in the mid-term report by the panel of the policy council on food, agriculture and rural areas for the verification of the basic law on food, agriculture and rural areas Part 2 on rural areas and environment

Author Name YAMASHITA Kazuhito (Senior Fellow (Specially Appointed), RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. July 2023 23-P-012
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The rural development policy that aimed to disperse factories throughout Japan has been ineffective recently, though it made great contributions to growth in the era of rapid economic expansion. The policy for the development of service industries which require the concentration of large populations in an area is also less effective for dilapidated rural areas. On the contrary, we have to decrease the farming population so that land-intensive farming such as rice may be conducted on a larger scale and become more profitable. In order to develop local areas as a whole, we have to concentrate populations in core cities to develop the service industry, arrange medical, childcare, and other similar facilities in a configuration that will lead to decent and healthy lifestyles in compact cities surrounding a core city, and let a few large-scale farmers operate large operations in very rural areas. The prefectural governments should play the role of coordinating local government policies over a wide area.

Farmland should be managed in a way that is profitable, removing the need for subsidies The decrease in the price of rice that will result from the abolition of acreage reduction policy of rice paddy fields will encourage small-scale, part-time farmers to part with their farmland. The direct payments to full-time farmers will let them accumulate farmland so that they may be more profitable and pay more rent to landowners who manage the farmland.

It is desirable to have more full-time farmers who have propensity to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. In order to “produce more with less”, we should also improve varieties by means of gene editing.