Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 14

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21


A - K) Basic Direction of Agricultural Policy

In addition to playing the important role of providing a steady supply of food, which is the most basic commodity in the everyday life of the general public, the agricultural and rural areas in Japan play a versatile and important role in regards to social and economic development as well as the maintenance of vitality in regional society and the conservation of the national land and natural environment. Although abundant diet has been achieved for the general public, economic internationalization has witnessed an increase in imports of agricultural products, and Japan is presently the world's biggest importer of agricultural products.

Meanwhile, amidst such changes as those of economic advancement and the concentration of population and industry in urban areas, recent years have witnessed great changes in the conditions of agricultural and rural areas in Japan, including decreasing numbers of workers, an aging population, and advancing depopulation of rural mountainous areas.

Furthermore, the global environmental problems which have demanded international action in recent years, including those of global warming, tropical deforestation and expanding desertification are closely related to the agricultural, forestry and fishery industries, and are extremely serious problems which cannot be solved by any one country, and which will have a great impact on future generations.

Giving due consideration to this situation, Japan devised the "New Direction of Food, Agricultural and Rural Policy" in June of 1992 as a long-term vision of agricultural policy for the 21st century, and will develop measures keeping in line with this policy.

Promoting environmentally conscious agriculture

Applying the many environmentally friendly qualities of agriculture as a material circulating industry, and further enhancing the environmental conservation functions of agriculture, Japan will comprehensively promote the following activities, and establish environmentally conscious agriculturethat reduces environmental load as much as possible.

Japan will properly assess the functions of agriculture and rural communities in the conservation of the national land and the environment, and will maintain and increase these functions.
Japan will develop and spread technology for environmentally conscious agriculture, which is not greatly dependent on chemical fertilizers and agricultural chemicals, and through which the conservation of the environment and sustainable agricultural reproduction is possible.
Japan will encourage the recycling of agricultural wastes, including the manure of livestock.
Reversing the downward trend in food self-sufficiency

While the diet of the Japanese people has become rich, the Japanese food self-sufficiency rate on a calorie supply basis has decreased to 46%, which is an extraordinarily low level among developed countries.

Therefore, it is Japan's basic policy to increase the domestic agricultural production as much as possible, by means of improving the quality and cost of domestic production, accelerating the increasing productivity in domestic agriculture, and reversing the downward trend in the food self-sufficiency rate.

Promoting the improvement of agricultural and rural areas

Japan will promote comprehensive improvements in rural regions, including improvements of the production infrastructure, which includes adding farmland, farm roads, and main facilities for irrigation and drainage for the purpose of realizing attractive agriculture. Other efforts planned are improvement of facilities for rural sewerage for the purpose of forming pleasant and beautiful pastoral spaces, as well as improvements to create and maintain safety in regards to the national land.

Activating agricultural and rural areas

Japan will promote activities that contribute to the activation of agriculture and agricultural districts in mainly hilly and mountainous areas, which are under unfavorable natural and economic conditions, and are confronted with the difficulty of maintaining a sound regional society in the face of decreasing population, mainly among the young, the aging population, and stagnation in activities for agricultural production.

For this reason, in addition to promoting agriculture with special regional characteristics, improving the structure of agriculture, and making improvements in the living environment that have lagged behind urban areas, Japan will engage itself in promoting the culture and history of rural regions, the practical application of resources and technologies which are peculiar to individual rural regions, the acceleration of exchange between rural and urban areas, and creating scenic rural spaces.

Japan will also improve conditions so that women, who play an important role in farming, mountain and fishing villages, will be able to sufficiently demonstrate their abilities.

Developing energetic agricultural production

In order to achieve advanced agricultural production as we approach the 21st century, Japan intends to foster management bodies to conduct efficient and steady management and excellent human resources, including youth among the farming sector, to support these management bodies. Japan will promote the realization of high-productivity and high-quality agriculture through the creativity of the various local areas, as well as measures for the furtherance of stockbreeding, dry field farming, and the production of fruit and vegetables.

Paddy farming is the mainstay of agriculture in Japan, vested with a high level of production ability and free from the damage of repeated cultivation. Japan will promote high productivity regulated paddy agriculture in order to precisely match rice production to its demand.

In addition to promoting the prevention of epidemics among vegetation, with due consideration given to soil conservation and the environment, Japan will also develop new varieties of crops and adopt superior seeds and seedlings using biotechnology.

Providing a steady supply of food, and promoting the food industry

As regards such food as rice, barley, meat and vegetables, which are essential to everyday life, Japan will promote the popularization of the Japanese-style diet, in which rice is the healthy and nutritious staple, working to secure stabile prices and a balance between supply and demand. Also, in addition to promoting the provision of safe, high-quality food that meets the diverse needs of consumers, Japan will apply comprehensive environmental measures throughout the stages of the production, distribution and consumption of food.

Developing and spreading technology

Japan will promote the development of technology for improving agricultural productivity, fostering new varieties of crops, the creation and use of a gene bank for collecting and storing genetic resources, which make up the basis for the development of a variety of crops, and technological development for the furtherance of the use of the biomass. In particular, Japan will promote the development of technologies on sustainable agriculture, such as integrated pest management incorporating biological pest control whose environmental effect is sufficiently considered, the introduction of pest-resistant varieties of crops, and fertilization and cultivation management technology for the purpose of conserving the fertility and soil of farmland. Japan will also develop farmland maintenance and management technology that demonstrates agriculture's functions of environmental conservation.

Also, in order to achieve the diffusion and permeation of technology among the farming sector, Japan will promote facilities supporting the spread of agriculture improvement, as well as working through agricultural extension officers.

Promoting international cooperation

At the root of such problems as tropical deforestation and expanding desertification are the explosive increases in population, poverty, and food shortages in developing countries, and in order to solve environmental problems in developing countries it is essential to establish sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Therefore, while grasping the actual situation as well as the developing technology, Japan will actively promote international activities for bilateral cooperation in regards to food, farming and rural areas, including technological cooperation and financial cooperation, through such means as dispatching experts and receiving trainees to and from developing countries, as well as multilateral cooperation including contributions to international organizations.

In addition to promoting efficiency in the use of energy in the farming sector, Japan will promote the practical application of natural energy in specific regions, conduct research to stop soil pollution on farmland, and devise measures to deal with polluted

14-L) Evaluation of the effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on Plants and Animals Caused by the Depletion of the Stratospheric Ozone Layer

Although it is not recognized in Japan that there is an increase in harmful ultraviolet radiation caused by the depletion of the ozone layer, there is a concern that an increase in ultraviolet radiation caused by the further depletion of the ozone layer may influence the growing of crops and the quality of crops.

For this reason, Japan has conducted surveys and research regarding the assessment of the effects of increasing ultraviolet radiation on the growing of crops.

In addition to continuing and improving upon these surveys and research, Japan will also study the assessment of the effects on living organisms (herbivore) which take in plants which have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan