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The long-term decline of Japan’s self-sufficiency in food continues. Last year, the food self-sufficiency in calorie terms fell to a record-low 37 percent — meaning the nation covered less than 40 percent of the food it consumes with domestic output — and the government’s target of boosting the ratio to 45 percent seems as distant as ever. The steep gap, coupled with the reality of the nation’s farming, raises the question of whether it’s adequate to keep food self-sufficiency as a key yardstick in agricultural policy.

The decline in food self-sufficiency in 2018 was blamed on sharp cuts to domestic output of wheat and soybeans due to unfavorable weather. Until the mid-1960s, domestic production covered more than 70 percent of the food consumed in this country. But the self-sufficiency in food has since been on a long-term decline, dipping below 40 percent for the first time in 1993, when a cold summer resulted in an extremely poor rice crop of rice and a subsequent shortage.

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