Japan has been trying to promote its agricultural products for foreign markets even as many farmers are aging and dying. It has also been importing a great proportion of its food for decades. How are its prospects for feeding itself or others?
Actually, many Japanese corporations have been getting into agricultural business by means of indoor farm (vegetable factory) technologies for some time. Mao Suzuki reported and commented that Japanese inventions and development of technologies for growing produce in controlled environments such as under LED lights have led globally, with over 2,000 patent applications per year.
The advances in Japan by companies such as Panasonic in farming technology represent not only forays into the foreign market–many Chinese like Japanese produce–but perhaps a struggle to protect food production in Japan itself. It is a strength reflecting a weakness. Worries about nuclear contamination following the 2011 Fukushima plant disaster and the declining domestic farming populace may feed a sense that the Japanese need to have secure and continuing food sources domestically, even with less available land and labor. Foreign inventions brought to Japan may even help Japanese consumers enjoy locally grown food in this challenging environment.
Writer: Josiah T. Momose.
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