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The government’s new target of raising Japan’s self-sufficiency in food to 45 percent in 10 years — compared with the previous target of 50 percent — may be more plausible because it’s closer to reality. Still, the question remains whether it is appropriate to retain food self-sufficiency as a major yardstick in the nation’s agriculture policy.

The new target is featured in the government’s basic agriculture plan, which has been updated every five years since 2000 to set the direction of farming policy. The earlier plan adopted in 2010 by the Democratic Party of Japan administration then in power called for increasing Japan’s calorie-based rate of food self-sufficiency to 50 percent by fiscal 2020, but the actual figure remained roughly flat at 39 percent for the four years up to fiscal 2013.

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