Japan’s agricultural reforms watered down but still significant

A newly planted rice field in Japan. The draft bill presented to the Diet on 3 April to reform the Japan agricultural cooperative (JA) organisation is a very much watered-down version of the initial recommendations for JA reform. (Photo: Flickr User, Amir Jina).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

In his 29 April speech to US Congress, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proudly referred to his administration’s ‘sweeping reforms to our agricultural cooperatives that have not changed in 60 long years’. Read more…

The Abe administration outmanoeuvres JA in Japan’s local elections

Akira Banzai, president of  JA-Zenchu, is surrounded by reporters at the headquarters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo on 9 February 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

The Abe administration’s policy of separating the organisational interests of JA-Zenchu, the peak body of agricultural cooperatives (JA), from the interests of the prefectural central unions (chūōkai) and local cooperatives and farmers generally paid off in April’s local government elections. Read more…

The Empire Strikes Back: Reforming Japan’s agricultural co-ops and the local elections

A campaign staff puts up posters for candidates in local assembly elections in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture on 3 April 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

The nationwide local government elections in April are the ideal opportunity for Japan’s agricultural cooperative organisation (JA) led by the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA-Zenchu) to respond to the Abe administration’s recent reforms of the JA group. Read more…

The Abe push behind the Australian sub deal

Australia's Defence Minister David Johnston and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop pose for photos with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, 11 June 2014. Japan and Australia are considering a submarine deal, as Abe pushes to give his country a more assertive global military role. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

In July 2014, the Abe government adopted the ‘Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology’, which approved Japanese weapons exports as long as certain conditions are met. Read more…

How will Japan’s new agriculture minister influence the TPP negotiations?

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW, Canberra

Japan’s new Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Yoshimasa Hayashi, who previously served in the position in 2012–14, was a logical choice to take over from his disgraced predecessor Koya Nishikawa. He arrived at the Prime Minister’s Office (Kantei) only five minutes after Nishikawa left, and was apparently selected because he was ‘the only one that could immediately do the job’. Read more…

What the TPP portends for Japan–Australia agricultural trade

Akira Amari, Japan's minister in charge of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, attends a meeting of trade chiefs from 12 countries involved in the negotiations in Sydney on 25 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Australia’s farmers, particularly beef producers, may have celebrated too early when the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) took effect on 15 January 2015. The deal may be gazumped by another that is taking shape between Japan and the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Read more…

After Japan’s status quo election, where will opposition come from?

Following a landslide victory, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks as President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, 15 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

The 2014 Japanese election result was no more or less than a victory for the political status quo. All it did was reaffirm the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) predominance and the opposition parties’ collective weakness. Read more…