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LDP begins drawing up second-stage agriculture measures to cope with TPP

  • 2016-01-19 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation
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(Nikkei: January 19, 2016 – p. 4)

 

 The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) began on Jan. 18 drawing up “a large-boned policy for agriculture, forestry and fisheries”—the second stage of measures to help Japanese farmers cope with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The policy will comprise six subjects including reviewing material prices, improving export procedures, and strengthening human resources. The LDP will conclude the policy by this fall and reflect it in the fiscal 2017 draft budget.

 

 On Jan. 18 the LDP’s project team (PT) held the first meeting to draw up the large-boned policy. Agriculture and Forestry Division Director Shinjiro Koizumi chaired the meeting. “If we continue the conventional ways, there will be no future for Japan’s agriculture,” said Koizumi, indicating that he will review the industry structure.

 

 In the meeting, the PT interviewed large-scale farmers regarding problems of price formation for materials and machines needed for agricultural business. The farmers complained that material prices are higher in Japan than overseas, because manufacturers adjust prices in consideration for agricultural cooperatives. After the meeting, Koizumi told the press, “In order to meet farmers’ expectations, I want to achieve results.” He also pointed out, “One structural problem is the flow of money,” indicating he will review the Agricultural and Forestry Central Bank (“Norinchukin Bank”), which does not provide sufficient agricultural loans.

 

 The PT also seeks to improve export procedures. Currently, as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) separately support agricultural exports, the PT will enhance cooperation between the two organizations. Furthermore, the team will deliberate the establishment of “the checkoff system,” in which farmers’ monetary donations will be used to fund PR activities for agriculture. Many farmers are wary of the extra burden; voices of caution persist.

 

 The LDP put together measures at the first stage in November 2015 and incorporated the land improvement project among other things into the fiscal 2015 draft supplementary budget. But it plans to finalize many measures by the fall of 2016.

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