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In a rather belated move aimed at giving the languishing Japanese economy a badly needed shot in the arm, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s key economic panel has put yet another sacred cow on its reform agenda: agriculture.

At a meeting earlier this month of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, chaired by Koizumi himself, four private-sector members stressed the need for Japan to promote free-trade agreements, especially with Asian trading partners and without treating the farm sector as sacrosanct.

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