(Sankei: October 10, 2015 – p. 9)
Q: Tariffs on many agricultural products will be abolished or reduced under the TPP agreement. What will be the impact of this?
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Hiroshi Moriyama: There will be a certain extent of impact. However, take the case of Unshu tangerines, there is no evidence that imports of oranges increased with the reduction of tariffs. Domestic and imported products are now differentiated. An increase in domestic prices is not directly linked to an increase in imports. Consumers will benefit from lower commodity prices.
Q: How will domestic rice farmers be affected?
Moriyama: I can understand that the people are doubtful about importing more rice when there is a domestic surplus. We must review domestic rice reserves in relation to the new imports. I believe it will be possible to prevent an impact on domestic rice prices by adjusting the reserves.
Q: What measures will be taken?
Moriyama: We will look into the details of the effects on all sectors where tariffs will be eliminated or reduced and take the necessary measures. The people are anxious or critical because information on the TPP has not been conveyed to them accurately. It is important to explain the substance of the agreement properly. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has set up a headquarters on TPP measures. It is beginning to explain to the local governments and affected groups and taking timely steps on this matter. We will calculate the total amount of the effects and look into the details until the (TPP-related) bills are submitted.
Q: How do you intend to work on agricultural cooperative reform?
Moriyama: We will examine the details of the auditing system that the agricultural cooperatives are worried about and devote sufficient time to discussing the issue of associate members. Senior MAFF officials will hold regular meetings with representatives of the cooperatives. We will always share information on the issues involved.
Q: What are your goals as the minister?
Watanabe: I would like to make agriculture, forestry, and fisheries an industry that young people will be proud to engage in. I would like to move toward this goal as much as possible during my term.