Japan’s rice crop this year is expected to increase for the first time in four years and achieve the second-largest harvest per unit area, Rice Databank said Wednesday.

The private think tank, which monitors rice production and movements in the rice market, gave a “rather good” index of 103 for the average rice crop in Japan against 100 for an average year.

Rice production per 1,000 sq. meters is forecasted to reach a national average of 542 kg, the second largest on record after 544 kg set in 1994, Rice Databank said.

Of Japan’s 47 prefectures, Tochigi, Toyama, Kyoto and 12 others, are likely to set per-unit harvest records.

Total rice harvest is expected to amount to 9.15 million tons, up about 18 percent over the output of 2003.

Rice Databank made the forecast based on weather and rice growth data across Japan as of Saturday.

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