Will Japan avoid economic and societal decline? I believe that the answer to this question depends, more than anything else, on free market reform of agriculture.
It is a regrettable but seemingly immutable fact of life that agriculture is the most “protected”—by which I mean politically favored, subsidized, cartelized, regulated, and non-competitive—sectors in most countries, not least the U.S. It is also a fact that productivity, technological advance, and overall output in agriculture are inversely related to the degree of “protection.”
For two, almost three, generations Japanese agriculture has been essentially “socialized,” that is, sucked into the maw of the bureaucratic, administrative state. Japanese farmers think and act like government employees, who expect—and receive—a guaranteed income from the state. The organization to which all farmers belong, the Nokyo (the Association of Agricultural Cooperatives), is essentially a political interest group, almost a political party, whose agenda is solely to maintain the level of “protection”—read, socialization.
Read the rest of the story: Reforming Japan’s Socialized Agriculture.