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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Japan struggles to save shrinking, aging agriculture industry

Japan struggles to save shrinking, aging agriculture industry: It doesn’t look like much:�a�few mismatched plots of farmland wedged between busy highways and commercial developments on the outskirts of this midsized city.

But if Ryusuke Goto, 27,�can find success as a rice farmer under relaxed rules and regulations introduced last year, he could help spark a turnaround in Japan’s long-declining agricultural industry.

“The situation has become very serious. The population is shrinking; the number of farmers is declining. But I think we are beginning to see a change. I’m actually quite optimistic,” said Goto, whose fields are in a special farming district created last year.

Japan’s agricultural�sector has long been a model of inefficiency: tiny farms burdened by heavy regulation, propped up by government subsidies and protected by a vast array of tariffs and import controls.�Though food is plentiful and quality is high, prices paid by Japanese consumers can be twice as much as those in other countries.