Japan Agriculture, Livestock and Fishing

By | September 4, 2021

Contrary to other economic sectors and despite the government’s efforts to introduce modern systems, agriculture, which covers just 13% of the national surface, has certainly not achieved significant progress nor has it made significant changes in production techniques. It employs less than 5% of the active population, a percentage that is continuously and sharply decreasing (it was still 33% in 1960) given the enormous exodus from the countryside and the great attraction exercised by other sectors, and its impact on GDP is also in decrease: equal to 6% in 1973 it dropped to about 1.5%. Following the land reform, carried out in the years 1947-49 and which led to the abolition of the pre-existing large estates, agricultural activity is essentially carried out by small landowners. Given the general limited agricultural income and thanks to mechanization, many farmers also work in nearby manufacturing companies or in any case devote part of their time to other productive activities; ground pulverization (land properties are on average less than 1 ha: in particular in the southern areas many are even less than 0.5 ha, while they reach larger dimensions in Hokkaidō, where most of the funds exceed 5 ha) does not allow to achieve great technical progress, although the use of both agricultural machinery and fertilizers has increased significantly. Despite, therefore, a certain modernization, also supported by the traditional activity of the cooperative movement, agriculture has basically remained with its typical Asian characteristics, which means the clear prevalence of intensive rice cultivation over a large part of the archipelago (in practice up to the 37th parallel); however, it makes two harvests a year possible. Rice, which covers almost 1.7 million hectares, occupies more than half of the arable land and is able to cover internal needs (the use of rice is very high also for the production of sake, the national liquor of Japan). After various experiments, the Japanese technicians have managed to create a variety of rice that also adapts to the cold environment of the island of Hokkaidō; however, most of the production comes from the irrigated areas of Shikoku, Kyūshū and central-southern Honshū. A certain development had taken the cultivation of wheat, practiced above all in Hokkaidō but also in the other islands as a winter crop, which follows the summer crop of rice; production does not cover internal demand. Barley is also quite common, which is also sown after the rice harvest; much less important are the productions of other cereals, such as corn, oats and millet, while potatoes and sweet potatoes are well represented. However, the food consumption of the population (as a whole not covered by national production) is gradually changing, especially due to the changed demands of those who live in the cities: thus, while overall the per capita consumption of rice has decreased, particular importance is has taken up the cultivation of vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, cabbages, etc., both in the immediate vicinity of large urban centers and in remote areas but particularly favored by the climate, such as the coastal plains of the Pacific Ocean, influenced by the Curoscivo Current. Check toppharmacyschools for higher education in Japan.

Fruit growing also recorded a notable increase due to the increased national demand and supply to the canning industry, largely at the service of exports; Good quantities of citrus fruits are produced annually (which permanently place Japan among the top 20 world producers), apples, pears, peaches, grapes, plums, etc. Among the industrial crops, tea is widespread (100,000 t produced in 2005), grown on the mountain slopes of central and southern Japan and largely exported. Soya prevails among oil crops; among the textile ones, all rather modest, linen and hemp. Silk is no longer as prestigious as it once was, given the affirmation of artificial textile fibers and consequently the traditional gelsiculture is very limited; the production of tobacco is discreet and, with hops, cane and sugar beet, completes the picture of the main industrial crops. The forest heritage is very extensive, especially for a country of such ancient and dense population; as much as 64% of the land area is covered by forests, with a prevalence of conifers or broad-leaved trees depending on the climatic varieties; the largest expanses of conifers (such as those of Japanese cedars or sugi, Japanese cypress or hinoki, fir trees, etc.) are strictly controlled by a specific government body in order not to excessively impoverish national resources. The annual production of wood, widely used as building material and for paper pulp, is not sufficient for the national needs; therefore, imported timber is used to a large extent. § As in most Far Eastern countries, the role of livestock farming in Japan is also very limited; on the other hand, the areas of grass and permanent pasture are extremely small, equal to just 1.7% of the national territory. However, in relation to the aforementioned transformations induced by urban demands in the food sector, and specifically due to the ever-increasing demand for meat and dairy products, Japan now has, especially for cattle, of modern and very rational zootechnical complexes; Instead, the traditional breeding of pigs and the very important breeding of poultry depend mostly on small farmers. § A fundamental sector of the Japanese economy, fishing employs a large number of people, but in recent years, Japan has seen the quantity of fish fall, and has lost its world record, surpassed by China, Peru and India. On the other hand, it ranks first in the world for the breeding of fish in the nursery (aquaculture). Fishing is organized in a very modern way, with cutting-edge techniques and experiments through which we try to exploit all the possible resources of the sea, which for Japan, an island country, is obviously a vital space. It is practiced both by numerous small businesses, which operate it along the coasts (shrimp, mackerel, shellfish, etc.), and by impressive industrial complexes, which account for over 70% of the entire catch. These complexes are very well equipped, with powerful flotillas of boats that ply not only the Japanese seas, but also range in the Pacific, especially in the northern section (where, moreover, the delimitation of the fishing areas, based on international agreements, have put a certain stop to the “invasions ”Of Japanese fishermen), and also go into the Atlantic and the Antarctic Ocean. In the Japanese seas the best fishing areas are those where the Curoscivo and the Ogascivo meet, rich in fish fauna of tropical and cold waters; salmon, cod, herring, etc. are caught here., while in the other areas tuna predominates. There are numerous equipped fishing ports along the coasts of Hokkaidō, Honshū and Kyūshū (where, among many, those of Wakkanai, Hachinohe, Miyako and Fukuoka are respectively located) and large canning industries are attached to them. Whaling was also very profitable, for which Japan had a well-equipped fleet. This practice, however, has been formally suspended since 1988 following an international agreement that allows whaling only for scientific purposes and which tends to protect the species, cannot be said to have ceased even if the country is accused of not respecting the treaty: Japanese fishing boats, in fact, continue to practice it widely (in 2003 820 specimens were killed). In addition to fishing, there are other sea exploitation activities, including the collection of natural pearls and the cultivation of pearl oysters (nurseries in Toba), for which the Japanese have world priority. The collection of algae, used for food, has also assumed relevance. Regarding the importance of fishing for Japan, it may be indicative that over 50% of the animal protein that the population feeds on is represented by seafood.

Japan Agriculture