Geographical Review of Japa,. Ser. A, Chirigaku Hyoron
Online ISSN : 2185-1735
Print ISSN : 0016-7444
ISSN-L : 0016-7444
Environmental Change and Rice-producing Societies in Monsoon Asia
A Review of Studies and Elucidation of Problems
Masatoshi YOSHINO
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1999 Volume 72 Issue 9 Pages 566-588

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Abstract

To assess the environmental changes caused by global warming in the 21st century and their impact on rice-producing societies in Monsoon Asia, previous research and recent international and Japanese activities are reviewed and the problems to be studied are summarized.
Since the 1920s, many studies have been conducted on regional geography in Monsoon Asia, mainly by European and American geographers, demographers, agricultural economists, and sociologists. They concluded that only rice-producing societies can sustain high-density populations in Monsoon Asia. In other words, high population density is a result of rice cultivation. Is this conclusion still valid in the 21st century?
Since World War II, synthetic studies on special topics by scientists from many fields have been carried out. Examples include rice-cultivating societies in Thailand, agricultural cultivation forms in Monsoon Asia, etc. From the 1970s, international meetings have been convened on the topic of rice and climate, and from the 1980s on the relation of rice cultivation with global change. In the 1990s, global and national food security problems have become a main topic. It is believed that these problems should be discussed from the viewpoint of relatively homogeneous regions with similar cultures, history, and recent experience in industrialization/urbanization, as in the regional scale of Monsoon Asia. International programs like the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and Human Dimension Programme (HDP), and the international organizations such as SCOPE, OECD, FAQ, and WMO have studied topics related to rice cultivation and the influence of global change, but the human dimensions were not the main focus in those studies.
After discussing the range and definition of Monsoon Asia, further issues to be studied are summarized. They include: 1) consumption, self-sufficiency, and demand for rice; 2) rice production and El Nino; 3) the rice cropping calendar; and 4) the historical development of paddy cultivation. In conclusion, the following three topics are the most urgent subjects: 1) urbanization/indus-trialization and rice-producing societies in Monsoon Asia; 2) assessment of the impact of climatic fluctuations/changes on paddy production potential; and 3) influence of and or humid climate tendencies on regional/cultural development.

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