This book describes the profound structural change in Japan's agriculture from its politically marginalized, economically fragmented, traditional labour-intensive postwar mode of production to its current dual modern shape of a highly capitalized, politically organized and protected sector dominated by prosperous part-timers and their agricultural cooperatives, coexisting with a shrinking minority of commercial farmers. The mechanism and structural consequences of political protection are described for the major crop and livestock products, as are current attempts at agricultural policy reform. In this context, the political economy of Japan's agricultural and food policies is reviewed. In a quantitative appraisal the book demonstrates that subsidy policies in Japan have been extraordinarily effective in divorcing production from market realities, resulting in excess food costs for consumers, in freezing the obsolete structure of farm holdings, and in eroding the entrepreneurial vitality of the farm sector by finally placing all products under production controls. In the final analysis the author sees Japan's extreme agricultural policies as a case of how not to do it. They provide lessons for European and American policy-makers of a vicious protectionist policy spiral ruining a once viable and vital sector almost beyond any hope of adjustment and adaptation.
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