Rice has been at the center of Japan's economy and culture for centuries. But changes are afoot. There is growing concern among Japanese farmers that the country's rice-producing capabilities are diminishing in the face of international trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In fact, all local agriculture is in the spotlight as pressure mounts to increase local imports of overseas produce.

Setsuko Yasuda has been following this situation closely. She heads the Japan Organic Agriculture Association and the Vision 21 information center, which monitors the government's policies on agriculture and food safety, among other things. In a recent interview she addressed these concerns and explained how rice consumption and production in Japan is changing.

What do you think about the current state of rice farming in Japan?