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An ornate box of food
Agricultural Industry
Agricultural Industry
  1. Who Farms in Japanese Farm Households?
  2. Japan’s Shrinking Farm Population
  3. Farm Household Size and the Problem of Succession
  4. San-Chan Nōgyō
  5. The Changing Income of Farm Households
  6. Women and Agriculture
  7. Land Reform in Postwar Japan
  8. Why Japan's Land Reform Succeeded
  9. Reorganization of Farm Land
  10. Food Self-Sufficiency in Japan
  11. Food Self-Sufficiency in Rice
  12. Rice Rationing and Subsidies
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A farmer plows a rice paddy with an ox.
At the time of the land reform, agriculture in Japan was done by hand, with the help of oxen.1958.
Photo from Mainichi Shimbun.
Land Reform in Postwar Japan
As part of the democratization of Japan after World War II, Japanese leaders and Occupation authorities worked together to carry out land reform. It is regarded as one of the most successful of the Occupation-era reforms, and has become the model for land reform in other countries. The purpose of land reform was to reduce the wide gap between absentee landlords who owned agricultural land but did not farm it themselves, and tenant farmers who rented the land in exchange for giving the landlord a high proportion of the crop. The land reform laws were intended to limit the amount of farm land one household could own to about the amount of land that one family could farm themselves, without outside labor. The government forced absentee landlords to sell all their land to the government. Farmers were allowed to own a small amount of farm land that they could rent out to others ( 2.5 acres or one hectare in most parts of Japan, and 10 acres or 4 hectares in Hokkaido), and had to sell any excess to the government. The government then sold this land, usually to the tenant who had been farming it. The result greatly improved the living conditions of farmers.
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