Japan's Food Self-Sufficiency Falls

Concern over Chinese imports

Dipping below 40% for the first time in 10 years, Japan's self-sufficiency in food is creating concern. One concern in particular is the reliance on Chinese imports.

The portion of Japan's food produced at home came to 39% in the year to March. "Poor weather led to poor crops while the declining consumption of rice has failed to stop," said an official at the ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

The news came at a time of growing concern both in Japan and overseas about food from China following a string of high-profile scares. Japan counts on China as its second largest foreign supplier of food after the U.S.

Japan's food self-sufficiency was still above 70% in the early 1960s but has since steadily declined as the world's second largest economy shifts away from agriculture and as the diet becomes more Western. The Japanese are increasingly turning away from rice, the longtime staple of their diet. Annual rice consumption per head has been around post-World War II lows as different foods enter Japanese kitchens and working women opt for quicker-to-serve bread or pasta meals.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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