1) Today, the agricultural competitive power of each country depends mainly on the result of its own agricultural structural policy. But, a structural policy based on marketing principles isn't equally effective in all countries, due to their different social and economic conditions. We can classify these situations into 4 types depending on the necessity or availability of this policy as follows: (1) Countries where the special agricultural structural policy hasn't been needed, (2) Countries where the agricultural structural policy has already been achieved, (3) Countries where the agricultural structural policy has been impossible to be adopted till now, (4) Countries where the agricultural structural policy hasn't been urgently necessary yet. Japan and many Asian countries belong to type (3). 2) After the Meiji Restoration, many rural problems, which were caused by rapid modernization, increased in Japan, In the Taisho period, this gave rise to various rural movements, peasant disputes and community agriculture movements to protect peasant life and rural societies from these problems, that have obtained excellent results. These movements depended on local communities which were usually called “mura”. A mura is a kind of hamlet which has its origin in the rural society of the Edo period, but it's worthy of notice that these have been reformed to enable them to perform new functions suitable to modern society. These movements which have depended on mura have shown a great ability to rationalize land-property and land-use in particular. 3) Such Japanese historical experience gives us some indications as to the Japanese-style of agricultural structural policy. If we were to express the features of this policy in a word, “organizing”, which is in contrast to Western-style “market competition, ” would be the right word. The agricultural structural policy that depends on “organizing” is available in many countries which belong to type (3).
One of the points in dispute in Japanese agricultural policy is whether or not special cares should be taken for rural communities. The purpose of this paper is to explain the relation of Japanese agricultural policy and agriculture based on rural community. The conclusion is as follows: 1. The period from 1977 through 1985 is often called the period of “agricultural policy of regionalism”. That is because the government treated rural communities as the base or target for developing the agricultural policies. 2. The “agricultural policy of regionalism” has the following three characteristics. (1) Agricultural policy corresponding to individual region (2) Agricultural policy according to decentralization (3) Agricultural policy based on autonomy of rural community 3. The “agricultural policy of regionalism” went into a rapid decline in the period of “agricultural policy of globalism” after 1986. That means a conversion from the agricultural policy emphasizing rural communities to that emphasizing the market mechanism. 4. In the meantime all the three constituents in the agricultural policy of regionalism mentioned above are included in the Direct Payments on Hilly and Mountainous Areas that started after enacting the Basic Law on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in 1999. Depending on the policy, some rural communities in the hilly and mountainous areas are to build up new farming systems. 5. In this situation the future Japanese agricultural policy is required to intensify again the characteristics of the “agricultural policy of regionalism” and to introduce a policy based on rural community.
There are now difficulties in reforming the agricultural structure in Japan. The accumulation of farmland to largesize farmers is not necessarily successful. On the other hand, village-based group farming that consists of part-time farmers is sometimes more successful in terms of cost reduction. At other times, the cooperation between part-time farmers and large size farmers brings about rational land use and drastic cost reduction. But the main purpose of village-based group farming is not in cost reduction but in the maintenance of regional resources, environment, rural society and lives. Their activities makes for the accumulation of social capital. When the regional trust and network based on the social capital are workable, the agricultural structure reform will be successful because the market of the farmland is not complete and the regional resources use have externalities in rural society.
The purpose of this article is to overview the process of “Rural Revitalization” based on the self-governing organization of rural hamlets since rapid economic growth in Japan, to clarify the way of agricultural and regional development based on interaction between urban and rural communities, and to reform rural organizations since the 1990s. Based on case studies of advanced movements of rural revitalization, three problems were pointed out, as follows. 1. Realization of rural revitalization over the range of rural hamlets and the establishment of a new system of regional management. 2. Establishment of a principle of regional management based on “the logic of the field”, the opposite of the logic of economic rationalism or globalism. 3. Establishment of a new system of regional management corresponding with the “maturation” of interaction between urban and rural communities and the complicated relationship between urban area and rural area. The key to the future rural society is the creation of such an environment where rural residents, especially rural women, can solve many problems obstructing their independence, and fully demonstrate their volition and capability. Two of the most important implications for policy-making from this study is the fact that agricultural development should be included by comprehensive regional development, and that the policy of structural reform, including the policy of farm management, should be promoted under the policy of regional development.