I realize that agriculture is a sensitive topic in Japan. After living in Japan for almost 11 years, I became so appreciative of Japan and its people that I’ve encouraged my youngest son to return to Japan to study the language, deeply. He will attend International Christian University in Tokyo starting this fall.
The other morning I visited the Farmers Market in Carrboro, North Carolina, and purchased beets, cucumbers, elephant garlic and some red onions. It was more expensive than going to the local supermarket, but the produce is better.
The food culture is excellent in Japan and I certainly hope that Japanese people will not abandon that level of excellence. Japanese fruit is superior to anything I can purchase in the United States, although the vegetables are not that much better than the excellent produce in my home country.
In the U.S., a counterculture is developing to the industrial style of agriculture that has subsumed so much of our food. People of wealth are turning away from the products of huge agribusiness. There may be certain staples that agribusiness can acceptably produce — corn, wheat, soybeans and rice — but for anything unique, agribusiness tends to be lacking in quality.
I trust that the Japanese sense of culture and uniqueness will find a way to deal with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Any country that still creates a fine whiskey using distilleries heated with ground coal can figure out a way to produce the very best from its gardens and agricultural space. Japan has a great opportunity to be a leader in the Third Wave. Some of us here in the U.S. understand and appreciate the Japanese sense of excellence. I trust that Japan will adjust to the new reality and create unique solutions.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.