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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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Aerial view of a docked ship unloading imported rice.
During the poor rice crop of 1993, supplies of rice were urgently imported from California.
Photo from Mainichi Shimbun.
Food Self-Sufficiency in Rice
Even in rice, the most symbolically significant item of food self-sufficiency, Japan has become a bit less self-sufficient. A very bad harvest in 1993 forced Japan to import rice on a large scale for the first time. Most of the imported rice was used for processed products, including sake and vinegar. Japanese consumers resisted foreign rice at the dinner table, believing that it had an inferior taste. Special charcoal was sold in stores to be cooked along with the rice to remove the supposed bad taste. Domestic rice production rebounded in 1994, but by the end of the1990s Japan was importing about five percent of its rice from other countries. Japanese consumers still prefer to use only high quality Japanese rice for their meals.
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