Organized Panel Session
In the framework of Japan’s agricultural policymaking regime, Japan Agriculture (JA) looms large. It has been a consistent force for the Liberal Democratic Party and source of rural strength. During the Heisei era, the organization significantly expanded its power and strengthened the presence of the institution even in the midst of demands to reform its central organization, threats to LDP dominance, free trade agreements (FTAs) which brought changes to age old support policies for agriculture, Japan’s accession to international trade regimes and pressure from the United States to open agricultural markets. One of the reasons for the persistence of JA is the multi-faceted nature of its organization, which exists in every prefecture in Japan, as well as its presence at all points in the marketing, production and farming of rice. Although it is an organization possessing significant political and social capital, it has failed to deliver to its most importance constituency, Japan’s rice farmers. This paper presents an analysis of the impact of Heisei policies on rice farmers and Japan Agriculture’s role in rice farming using information gathered during interviews with cooperative members and officials in Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry (MAFF) while examining the reasons for its continued existence and prospects for changes in the new era.