This paper aims to depict the process of farmland accumulation by large-scale tenant farmers in the suburbs of Metropolitan Tokyo, focusing on social relationships among farmers. Data on farm management, changes in farming, distribution of farmland, percentage of leased land to total farmland, landowners renting out their cropland, and functions and membership of social groups were collected by conducting interviews with farmers and other people in the study area. Then, the data were analyzed to identify how closely tenants and landowners were related in social aspects.
The study area is the Kitasuka district of Narita City, Chiba Prefecture facing by Lake Inba. Rice monoculture has been dominant in this area. When construction of Narita Airport created many off-farm employment opportunities in the 1970s, many farmers who were engaged in off-farm jobs wanted to rent out their farmland. On the other hand, rapid mechanization and increased application of agrichemicals enabled full-time farmers to expand the scale of their farming activities by leasing farmland. As a result, large-scale tenant rice farming grew in this area.
The main findings of this study are summarized as follows:
The people in the study area belong to various social groups, which are generally classified into the groups with territorial relations and those with kinship relations. The former include residents' associations of local districts or settlements, alumni association of an elementary school, patron of a local shrine, and membership of irrigation districts. The latter include ties between parents and children, ties among close relatives such as brothers, sisters, uncles, nephews, and cousins, relations between head and branch families, and relations by marriage.
Lending and borrowing of farmland were mostly pursued within the district where tenant farmers lived, and were strongly influenced by close territorial and kinship relations. This type of farmland accumulation has long contributed to the development of large-scale tenant rice farming and to its sustainability. On the other hand, a new type of farmland accumulation has recently emerged as third-party organization has begun to mediate between tenants and landowners. The mediator in this case is the municipal government of Narita. Present successful tenant farmers have accumulated their farmlands by taking advantage of this opportunity in addition to traditional territorial and kinship relations.
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