Agriculture and Political Reform in Japan: The Koizumi Legacy

Aurelia George Mulgan
Public Access Documents

Given former Prime Minister Koizumis reformist zeal, agriculture might have been expected to be high on his list of targets for so-called structural reform. However, an investigation of the record of his administration on agricultural policy reveals only modest achievements in terms of policy innovation for agriculture and farm trade. To some extent Japans farming sector has been impacted by processes of fiscal reform and deregulation as well as cutbacks in rural public works. Koizumi-initiated reforms to the policymaking process have also served to reduce the power of individual ruling Liberal Democratic Party politicians as representatives of special interests. However, the bureaucratic, party and interest group actors within the agricultural policy community retain their independent policymaking authority over the farm sector. Furthermore, the vertically segmented nature of Japans policymaking process will continue to limit the possibility of trade-offs between agriculture and business over issues such as Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).