The Failure of Agricultural Policy Reform in Neoliberal Japan: The 2007 Multi-Product Management Stabilization Plan

Miyake, Yoshitaka
McDonald, Mary
Geography and Environment
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2014]
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This dissertation is a geography of a failed attempt to change state-society relations in Japanese agriculture, examining a policy that tried to require family farms to become corporate entities. The study traces the rationale for state neoliberalism in Japanese agriculture, the particular reform aimed at the practices of rural communities, and the fate of that policy. Neoliberalism is a range of economic policies favoring free markets, de-coupling from state support, and privatization. Japanese agriculture became a target of neoliberal thinkers because sub-sectors rely on state protections and farm scale and land use are thought inefficient. Anticipating that Japanese agriculture would face wider import streams and lower rice subsidies, neoliberal politicians adopted a 2007 national measure known as the Multi-Product Management Stabilization Plan, Hinmoku Ōdanteki Kei'ei Antei Taisaku. This "Multi-Product Plan" was neoliberal in that it declared only core farmers and Cooperative Farming above a certain size would be eligible for future subsidies, and tried to develop these bodies into profitable operations. The plan required Cooperative Farming land pools to rationalize and incorporate the management of small rice farmers. Small producers could not otherwise remain eligible for subsidies. I investigated how the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (MAFF) rolled out the Multi-Product Plan, how farmers tried to consolidate their management under the Multi-Product Plan; how farmers struggled with the plan in practice; and how politicians, agents, and researchers evaluated the plan's fit with the practices of farmers. Methods included interviews with staff in government agencies from national to local scales, and with leaders of rural communities. The Tōhoku Region was the site of the case study owing to its high dependency on rice farming. I interviewed staff of governments and related agencies across the six prefectures of that region. To understand the fit of the plan with local production and farmers' evaluation of the Multi-Product Plan, I chose Daisen City in the Senboku Region, Akita Prefecture, as a focus. My research found that the Multi-Product Plan could not succeed locally, continue politically, nor restructure Japanese agriculture. Farmers derailed Japan's developmental neoliberal policy in this instance.
PhD University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 246–259).
neoliberalism, government policies, governance of globalizing agriculture, Japanese agriculture, agricultural economics, international negotiations, Japan, Tohoku prefectures, Daisen city, agricultural policy
xv, 262 leaves
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Geography.
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