Saturday, August 04, 2012

Japanese new era of agriculture

Meiji University Kurokawa farm campus

Agriculture tomorrow in Japan after Fukushima atomic accident and spreading of radioactive materials. What is the situation today? I'd say the major impacts are on safety and education. I attended a Foreign Press Center Japan press tour with many Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Singaporean, US, and some European journalists (Swiss, Germany, French) colleagues. I saw how to expect to feed the archipelago, (and how to feed the Earth citizens) in a context of food security and next farming technologies.

I saw also how and why young Japanese students choose a work and life balance and become farmers in Japanese countryside but also in urban areas. Urban areas farming...? Quite awesome but it is a reality in Japan with all these valleys occupying 3/4 of the archipelago. I watched at a food store, Ceresamos, in Kawasaki, that Japanese customers can nowadays check on the board the daily report with amount of radioactivity contained in food. AT LAST!

Daily report of radioactivity in food

Naturally with 1.0 Bq/kg we are in this south Tokyo city well below the maximum limit of 100Bq/kg required by Japanese sanitary authorities. We can see the precious radioactivity monitoring document provided to Japanese consumers by Japan Agriculture Association, "JA".

Maybe an example to follow will be in adding a safety barcode on all agricultural products? Shopping here "is reassuring" this woman told me: "Fresh, safe and economical veggies!"

New agriculture and new students learning how to conceive new models more fair, more transparent, more accurate and in equal balance with the environment. But is it just business guided by the giants of agro-farming corporations or is it a new vision to answer to consumers? More fair trade and here the example was awesome, the cost of fruits and veggies (from producers to consumers) were 30% of the coast in Tokyo. Yen is strong but prices increase outrageously in Tokyo which keeps her citizens jailed in between walls and moats of consumerism with irregular quality, essence and flavor.

The Japanese administration is often seen as guilty not to address the people life issues or unable to answer to the requests (and this is the same in France and the Euroland by the way) and incapable to update when faced to a sudden problem. Remember the water problem for babies in Tokyo after the atomic reactor explosion at Fukushima? What was true what was erroneous? Who could be the appropriate communicator here? Too often the cold machine is paralyzed. I just agree more diversity should be given to cautious consumers and less privileges offered to big food corporations like Ajinomoto, Asahi Group, Snow Brand, Nishin, Morinaga, etc. And as time changes, future will say what consumers choose. I have my ideas about it.

Japan impose so heavy tariffs on trade that it is quite impossible to import food to Japan and hard to offer consumers a variety of choices and quality. On one side, Japan says it wants to increase diversity and on the other side provides such a net of protection to its agriculture intermediates thanks to invisible barriers or subsidies that it is difficult to talk about genuine competitive, fair and free economy. Or just hard to see any logical advance in such load of contradictions.

"Production is important in Japan because of government control and high prices but it is a double burden on consumers who pay high prices. And it is especially true for rice, 1.2 million farm-holds received rice granted government aid." So rice is expensive and protected, according to Professor Takemoto of Meiji University. But who gets the benefits? Little exploitations or huge agricultural industries? Time he said to opt for a "good agricultural power."

By the way why don't I see my favorite French Normandie apples or delicious African fruits on my table I asked a Japanese high ranking diplomat? Why? "Because Europe and Africa are far" he said without an hesitation. Pulling my legs. Usual refrain. Then why is wine cheaper than ever? Volumes? Do it for food then. You'll alleviate your ODA spending...

But at a time when we talk about food security and see that CPKO --stands here for Consumers Price Keeping Operations-- is still existing in Japan, and when we see that prices increase outrageously at the supermarket in spite of the benefits of a high YEN, a new element is emerging now among consumers in Japan: the Japanese are now showing their guts and become more assertive to obtain a more reactive market, accurately reflecting reality of prices and quality.

Japanese consumers use their mobile and tablets each second of their daily life and they have access to the society of information. They dare to buy on the Internet their cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini... It frightens bureaucracy! Indeed people have more adequate information especially using technologies, tools of communication and verification process as social networks and surveys show. They go organic too since Fukushima, a lot! Time for Kyushu and Shikoku or Kansai to promote their food.

IT is the answer here too. A new citizenship has emerged. Today Facebook is the third world power in population behind --China 1.3 Billion, India 1.1 Billion, Facebook 955 Millions--

They are the ones the authorities should answer. If not, consumers and voters will show them the door out. As long as we live in democracy. Japan is becoming impatient nowadays, especially young generations.

Have the "made in Japan" politicians noticed eventually?

 Customers feeling better?

 Food store clerk point at today radioactivity report

Students engaged in new agriculture studies

Studying the new agricultural and farming technologies
Meiji University Kurokawa campus

-- at Kanagawa prefecture, Kurokawa and Kawasaki cities, thanks to Meiji University of Tokyo and to the Foreign Press center Japan --

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Japanese Parliament under peaceful siege

Thousands of Japanese protesters rallied to demand the government abandon nuclear power after the 3/11 atomic accident of Fukushima

For months resilient Japanese ordinary citizens and anti nuclear activists demonstrated in Tokyo without having any single arrest or violence! After the outstanding demonstration event organized July 16th by Literature Nobel Price Oe Kenzaburo in Yoyogi, Tokyo this Sunday evening was again the theater of an other "Sayonara to the Nukes" massive demonstration held in the overheated Hibiya park, downtown. From 7 PM, thousands orderly formed a human chain around the Japanese Parliament and lighted thousands of candles. Families and citizens imposed themselves peacefully against the police whose orders are to try to marshall the demonstrators, apparently without any effect. The sight of Nagatacho with the Japanese Parliament surrounded by thousands of people and candles was so impressive. NHK gave a 20 seconds coverage after the Judo Olympics from London... Huh! Media have a funny way not to report about news or about information hierarchy!

Today the whole world knows about the Sayonara to the Nukes demonstrations, thanks to the social networks. The "hydrangea" peaceful anti-nuclear demonstrations won't stop here apparently and this citizens' movement is made to last. It is just a question of time prior to impose changes and kick out negligent or... corrupted individuals? Not so easy. Already Tepco is de facto nationalized and will be allegedly seriously monitored but I hear somber plans from other Japanese atomic electricity companies, this is also what angers these demonstrators I guess. Their prime fear is risk of extreme sudden contingency at Fukushima while we know that irradiation continues to spread from Dai 1 reactors, I am also told there are other diseases than leukemia or cancer we start to hear about such cases of heart (cardiovascular) diseases. Asking scientists from Criirad and Acro is quite meaningful. Today Japanese told loudly to their rulers, hiding behind their palaces' windows, that they won't get away threatening children's life. Japanese carry on with their protests... slowly and surely, like the tectonic plates they stand on, an irreversible dramatic move! 

VDO of Kjeld about the demonstration, something the Japanese TV did not show.

An article in the US media

(Illust. utsandiego)