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The government target of raising Japan’s food self-sufficiency ratio to 45 percent by fiscal 2010 is a pipe dream, the farm ministry said Thursday.

The nation’s food self-sufficiency ratio of 40 percent in fiscal 2003 — unchanged for the sixth straight year — is the lowest among industrialized countries. The ratio is calculated in calorie terms.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said the target, which it set in March 2000, is unlikely to be achieved due to ongoing sharp declines in the nation’s rice consumption and the dwindling farming population.

The ministry will set a new self-sufficiency target when it draws up a new plan for agricultural administration in March, ministry officials said.

Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate has been declining since fiscal 1965, when the rate was 73 percent.

In 2001, the rate was 122 percent for the United States, 121 percent for France, 99 percent for Germany, 69 percent for Italy, 61 percent for Britain and 55 percent for Switzerland.

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