Japan Family Farmers Movement (NOUMINREN)
The Japan Family Farmers Movement, NOUMINREN is continuing in our efforts to both protect and strengthen Japanese agriculture and farmers' livelihoods in the face of the crisis caused by U.S. and Japanese business circles. This organization was formed on January 26th, 1989 succeeding an earlier farmers' movement that had been in existence for a long time.
I. The food self-sufficiency ratio of Japan has dropped drastically. The ratio for grains is now below 30%, calculated based on weight and 40% calculated based on calories. We do not see such a low ratio even in developed countries, except in deserts or frozen climates areas. In December 1994, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the government party, and the coalition government steamrollered approval of a WTO Agreement by breaking campaign promises and withdrawing parliamentary resolution three times in the face of public opposition. The WTO has worked to destroy both Japanese and global agriculture by forcing farmers of developing countries and "small-sized farmers" in developed ones to make sacrifices. In Japan, agriculture has been sacrificed for the benefit of large Japanese corporations under the pressure of the U.S. which promotes economical hegemonism.
Adopting and even worshipping the agricultural policies contained in the WTO agreement, the government has promoted liberalization that increases imports of all agricultural products including rice, the main staple food. Also, the regulations for ensuring food safety have been eased to the international level defined by Transnational Corporations (TNCs). The sharp rise of agricultural imports is deadly and oppresses farmers' livelihoods. Moreover, the social issue of relocation of youth from local communities to urban areas has caused a situation in which there is a lack of agricultural successors in a rural village. Japanese agriculture and family farmer's livelihood has been brought to a brink.
Large Japanese corporations, which desire to get more profit by transforming themselves into TNCs say, "If you think about the future of Japanese agriculture, we need to quit 'national isolation toward the world in the agricultural market'." Also, they do not cancel their desire to "completely reform the old fashioned business model of 'Family Farming,' that has been practiced for thousands of years." So called "Structural Reform in Agriculture," in which it is all for the WTO, and the American and big Japanese corporations has been promoted by a government that basically follows requests of TNCs and advances policies for opening markets to increase import of agricultural products from other countries. The WTO and Free Trade Agreements (FTA) have the same schemes. Furthermore, the government tries to denounce the Agrarian Land System, which has protected family farming for a long time. By promoting this policy, the government wants to decrease the number of farmers greatly and make the entire scale of Japanese agriculture become much smaller.
Although most capitalist countries try to maintain or raise the self-sufficiency ratio for staple food, our country is going to destroy domestic agricultural production and lose national independence. If this abnormal trend continues, it would violate not only farmers' livelihoods but also the people's autonomy and sovereignty over food security and the guarantee for a sufficient food supply. Also, local businesses, land and the environment would be destroyed, and it would inevitably have a massive negative effect on our future.
These negative impacts from the government policies sacrificing agriculture for the greater profit of the big Japanese corporations and the U.S have already come to light. Day by day, more farmers are realizing that what motivates this is the "Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America," especially the article of the economical cooperation. The farming community has changed because of political reasons more than ever. Even though many twists and turns will remain, it is apparent that Japan faces an historical tuning point now.
The WTO agreement destroys Japanese agriculture and farmers' livelihoods, making this country depending on imported food, and supports TNCs and agribusiness to dominate over agriculture and food more and more. Poverty and starvation have become more serious, and farmers of all over the world have been driven into a crisis.
II. Since the late 1950's, the government has continuously promoted policies causing destruction of agriculture. During this period, what was the misfortune for the Japanese farmer's movement is that there was no any national center of any democratic people's organization. The center should have been able to under the common objectives of all people and guarantee its member's freedom in choosing and dedicating any political party or activities.
First, not only farmer's livelihood but also Japanese agriculture has been endangered. The things that people really need now are the following.
- A farmer's movement should properly succeed a former people's struggle to free land and protect farmers' livelihood through both the pre- and post- World War II.
- The movement should suit the current situation appropriately without sticking to old procedures.
- Any full-time or part-time farmer who respects agriculture and the local community can unite others based on having freedom to choose any political party and have any belief or religion. .
- An independent movement should be greatly advanced by establishing strong solidarity among all people who are concerned about the current situation and want to protect the future of the endangered domestic agriculture and farmers' livelihood.
- To achieve these goals, NOUMINREN must take progressive and democratic procedures for its activities.
Next, it is significant for us to make great efforts in motivating people to unite and have common goals together with the strong connection of various people's interests in agriculture, food and health. It is also important to have sufficient communication between producers and consumers based on dealing with agricultural products. Nowadays, many farmers, workers, consumers and small- and medium-sized wholesalers tend to unite for "protecting agriculture, food safety and health." This is an alternative to overcoming the crisis in agriculture.
Nobody can deny the fact that a food crisis that is one of the major issues in the 21st Century will happen in the future. Therefore, it becomes more obvious concerning the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and "Structural Reform in Agriculture," that the Japanese government supports will not be successful. They make agriculture in the world a market-oriented entity based on following the economic system of capitalism and neo-liberalism.
People face an historical crisis in agriculture, food safety and health. Now is the time for NOUMINREN as a genuine farmer's movement to strive greatly for the future.
III. The principal objectives and characteristics of the Japan Family Farmers Movement, NOUMINREN are the following:
- Promote independent development of Japanese agriculture and make farmer's livelihoods more stable
The principle goals of NOUMINREN are promoting autonomous development of Japanese agriculture and making farmers' livelihood more stable. We oppose he U.S. strategy for food and the activities of big corporations that are only trying to make more profit. We support for the autonomous development of domestic agriculture based on stabilizing farmers' livelihood from family farming ensuring their access to safe and proper modern up to date science and technology.
- Establish strong solidarity among all farmers without discriminating by difference in personal belief and motivating a nationwide movement based on farmers'demands
By making this objective common for farmers, we support them being able to unite without being segregated by personal belief and can motivate them to participate in nationwide or local movements based on having common demands.
- Freedom to support or not support any political party
NOUMINREN cannot stand by let Japanese government activities destroy agriculture. Although we never force any member to support nor exclude a certain political party, we guarantee members' right to choose any political party and freedom to participate in any political activity. If a political party has a common objective and understanding, it is possible to cooperate with its activities.
- Respect of the autonomous movement of each local or member organization
Conditions of this country's agricultural production and farmer livelihood vary in each area depending on geological or environmental factors. Therefore, it is important to respect the right of each member organization to decide its activities by themselves for strengthening solidarity.
- Expand our solidarity through all people
We promote not only a unified movement for "protecting agriculture, food safety and health," but also a movement against malrevision of the Constitution, a movement demanding the immediate abolition of nuclear weapons and the consumption tax, and others from which people are suffering at present. Also, we demand renouncement of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America. Reform of the government should be done for the people, rather than for corporations. We advance our movement for protecting freedom and human rights and supporting people in peaceful and democratic methods.
- Strengthen international solidarity
We are against globalization and neo-liberalism, which are designed to increase profits of the U.S. and TNCs and exploit people. We demand new trade rules based on food sovereignty. Based on supporting grass-root movements in each area domestically, we strengthen our international solidarity with farmers and people in the world.
IV. Our present demands that what we are struggling for:
- Recover agriculture and local communities by leading people to admit that agriculture and the local community are significant as a matter of common sense and make the government set up agriculture as the key production industry of this country.
- In order to improve farmers' livelihoods using the natural and social conditions of Japan effectively, we demand protection of the farmer's right to hold land titles violated by the development of residential area and big corporations in the city or local community. Also, we demand the government ensure the proper price system for farmers who can manage, like the people in other sectors, and strive to reduce farmers' debt.
- Withdraw the policy for making more reliance on agricultural products from other countries under the name of liberalization. We request Minimum Access of rice to be reduced or eliminated, the massive number of imported agricultural products which oppress domestic production to be cut down, and "Rice Policy Reform," which tries to lower rice production, the very roots of Japanese agriculture, to be stopped. Also, we demand building a proper, fair and equal trade system from improvement of the self-sufficiency ratio of staple food based on food sovereignty.
- Never let big corporations monopolize production and distribution of agricultural and stockbreeding products. We should widen the network that ties the innermost thoughts of producers to consumers and advance activities to make a fundamental system for supplying safe and abundant food varieties from north to south, the 3,000 km of the entire Japanese Archipelago.
- Drive for more reasonable and safer food supply by lowering monopolized value system of agricultural inputs and encouraging people to share machines and equipment.
- Provide daring support for farmers to nurture successors who have key roles for agriculture in the future. Also, the status quo of woman in the local community should be improved.
- Help part-time, full-time and aged farmers to use machines commonly and support each other depending on the conditions of each community.
- Stop corrupting the safety regulations for imported agricultural products. For instance, we should never let the government introduce GMOs, the safety of which has not been ensured, nor let TNCs monopolize agriculture by it. Food safety and people's health must be protected.
- Advance real Green Tourism. It should be practiced based on the real value and roles of agriculture and the local community in order to achieve restoring "contentment and humanism" which people desire to have.
- Demand democratic reform in the Japan Agricultural Co-operatives (JA), Agriculture Committee and Land Improvement District, and so on.
- Oppose the "Structural Reform in Agriculture," which aims to destroy the livelihood of family farmers and sacrifice agriculture. Job opportunities and conditions for farmers and the local community should be improved in order to be able to manage their life by farming or even working on a farm without owning land.
- Never let the government revise the Japanese Constitution, which should be devoted to protecting peace, people's sovereignty and democracy. Any scheme to restore militarism in this nation should be stopped. We demand the political system respect the Constitution.
- Reject the reform in taxation that leads to a great tax increase. We demand termination of the Consumer Tax. The current taxation system that works to give preference to major companies should be revised. We demand great reduction of all kinds of taxes.
- Stop the "Structural Reform in Economy," generating profit for big corporations by sacrificing people. We demand reducing the military budget, needless public enterprises. Life and agriculture, social welfare, health and education should be improved.
- Stop the corruption of the Fundamental Law of Education. We demand the establishment of education based on democracy.
- Never let a nuclear war happen. We call for immediate abolition of all nuclear weapons, nullification of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America, and clearance of all military bases. We hope for this country to be non-aligned, peaceful and neutral.
V. The policy of the government is abandoning the Japanese agriculture following the will of the U.S. and the business circles. The gap between the government and people created by the government policies is getting more and more deep. Furthermore, the government has been breaking its fundamental structure more and more rapidly and aggressively. In agriculture, there is no future under the current policy. It is time to strengthen our movement for protecting livelihood, peace and democracy. Reform of the policy and fulfillment of our demand that will be the final accomplishment of our struggle are greatly deserved in the society now.
As persons having sovereignty and as human beings, we will strive to work for putting an end to these destructive policies. We have three pillars as the "common objectives of people." A). Change the entire Japanese economic system to bee one for people, and make people's livelihoods more affordable and richer in the real meaning. B). Lead Japan to be a country which respects freedom, human rights and democracy ensured by the Japanese Constitution C). Be a non-aligned, non-nuclear and neutral country by nullifying the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States of America. We will struggle in the front lines.
We believe the advancement of our national center and the farmers' movement shall contributes to great positive influences in this society to be able to protect Japanese agriculture from a crisis.
We must hold strong will to accomplish our historical objectives.
- (This agenda was established in the NOUMINREN Second Conference, revised in the Seventh Conference, and suggested to be revised in the Sixteenth Conference. Then, authorized in the National Committee on January 15, 2006)