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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 April 16 - 22  > Japan has many things to do to break through global food crisis
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2008 April 16 - 22 [AGRICULTURE]

Japan has many things to do to break through global food crisis

April 16, 2008
Akahata, editorial (excerpts)

The soaring prices of grains and food are sweeping the world. In developing countries, difficulty in obtaining food has even led to food riots in some places. The task now is to respond to the needs of developing countries for emergency assistance and to control speculative money, one of the causes of the food price rises. It is important to establish food sovereignty for every nation. Japan, one of the world’s largest food importers, must revitalize its agriculture and raise its food self-sufficiency rate.

With 37 countries facing a food crisis, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), and the World Bank are calling for international support to these countries. On April 14, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the present global food crisis has reached emergency proportions and called for long-term efforts as well as emergency measures to meet food needs.

Japan should make an active contribution to the international effort.

We must take a hard look at speculative money behind the food price rises. The collapse of the U.S. real estate market bubble, followed by the sub-prime mortgage crisis, has caused a stock market meltdown, which in turn has given rise to speculative money entering the grain market. Hedge funds and major financial institutions are to blame for this chaos.

The food crisis is expected to be discussed at the G8 Toyako Summit this summer. The last G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, discussed control over speculative funds but failed to reach consensus due to Japanese and U.S. opposition.

In the upcoming summit, Japan should play an active role in controlling speculative funds.

Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate is below 40 percent, the lowest among developed countries. The Japanese Communist Party in its “Agriculture Revitalization Plans,” issued in March, calls on the government to end its present position of reliance on foreign food and establish a policy of raising the country’s food self-sufficiency rate as the most important national task. The revitalization of Japan’s agriculture will encourage other countries that are suffering from the shortage of food.

Japan has abandoned its policy of self-sufficiency in rice and is importing 770,000 tons of rice every year. It must break way from this policy immediately.
- Akahata, April 16, 2008
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