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Pandemic puts pressure on gov't to open up rice stockpile to charities

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By Chang-Ran Kim and Izumi Nakagawa

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"We're bound by the law to use the stockpile only in the event of a supply shortage in the market, or for the purpose of'food education.' We can't use it for welfare," said an official for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). "This is the extent of what we can do."

Since rules are rules, right?

No matter that tax is paid on food at rates of 8%-10% and where people do starve to death in their homes!

The old people are being hit hard really hard too.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

"I cut my meals to once a day, in mid-afternoon

No problem!

Let us continue to scream for more and more lockdowns!

Crazy!

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

she ended up relying on rice and pre-packaged fare

I hope that people finally understands the impact of all their screams for shut downs.

People are losing jobs and have no idea how to bring food on the table.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

As supplies from corporate donors dwindle in a suffering economy, food banks have been left struggling to provide a safety net for the poor, elderly, day laborers, and desperate college students like Ayumi.

"For me, the most heart-rending thing is knowing that we have resources available out there," said McJilton.

But according to Keidanren, Suga and the Nikkei: We cannot have wage hikes, there is no need for more direct stimulus to the public and the stock market is at an all time high!

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I hope that people finally understands the impact of all their screams for shut downs

Lockdowns work.

People are losing jobs and have no idea how to bring food on the table.

Yet the young lady in the article was able to get at least one meal a day.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

@P.Smith

Yet the young lady in the article was able to get at least one meal a day.

I guess you are still in the good situation to have 3 times a day a meal plus a lot of snacks in between.

And I guess you have no idea what it means to have a meal only once a day.

Otherwise you would never say that!

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Err those in power can spend on girlie bars, while others are lucky to have one meal a day, something is not right. Isn't a government ment to improve life?

14 ( +16 / -2 )

"We're bound by the law to use the stockpile only in the event of a supply shortage in the market, or for the purpose of'food education.'

Ironically the Japanese have reduced the rice consumption by half since 1960s, and its demand is continuing further to downfall due to alternative diets. The stockpiling policy is obsolete. The ministry's stingy attitude would eventually kill rice culture. People eat more bread, noodles and pasta. Food diversity is good for food security.

なぜ食べない!コメの消費が減り続ける真因

https://toyokeizai.net/articles/-/218173

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I guess you are still in the good situation to have 3 times a day a meal plus a lot of snacks in between.

You are correct.

And I guess you have no idea what it means to have a meal only once a day. 

You are incorrect.

Otherwise you would never say that!

This isn’t a logical inference from my post.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I remember when people complained about other people for going out to be selfish.

But how about sitting at home in home office, lucky because no need to go to work and get full salary.

Having Chips and Coke on the sofa, eating 3 meals a day and continue screaming for shut downs.

No need to think about just 1 second how to destroy other people life and existence?

Is that NOT selfish?

I guess nobody from us here was ever depend on food charity or can eat only once a day!

If you slip in that situation, you will change your opinion according shut downs very fast.

And if you have kids, how will you explain your kids that they can eat only once a day?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Yet the young lady in the article was able to get at least one meal a day.

since my businesses failed last year, I eat two meals a day and know the times of various supermarkets 50% products in the evenings.

No problem, but still overweight.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Monty: You seem to think we should all go about our normal business and just let the virus run its course. Those who get sick and/or die simply have to accept the consequences so others don’t have to experience food shortages.

Do you also scream this loudly to support charities doing poverty relief work in undeveloped countries, or do you reserve your outrage only for what happens in Japan?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

since my businesses failed last year, I eat two meals a day and know the times of various supermarkets 50% products in the evenings.

Sorry to hear you are negatively impacted by this situation. Glad to see that you are still able to “how to bring food on the table.”

Hope it gets better for you.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

3dr biggest economy in the world with 3rd world national diet. Pretty sure there is room for massive improvement. Or trust charity under fundeded nobody should be on one meal a day. This is what a modern county lets happen?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

@P.Smith

I guess you know that in other countries people have not only once a day a meal because of the shut downs!

Just a few weeks ago there was a big report, I guess also here at JT, that children have nothing to eat because parents lost jobs because of the shut downs.

Of course you are right, we should not let run the Virus its course, but in my opinion, if people get more sensibilzed to follow the basic rules like wear masks, keep social distance, use hand sanitizer, restaurants follow best preventions like keep space between customers or put shields on the tables...and so on,...then...shut downs are not necessary.

But you know I have one hope:

I hope that the vaccine will bring all of this to an end!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I know this may sound hard-hearted, but if the import tax on rice was not so exorbitant, people would not have to pay such exorbitant prices for rice. That, on top of rice being stockpiled, is a disgraceful situation, when people are going hungry. A case where self-protectionism is proving counter-productive.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This crisis to use an overly used phrase, is of epic proportions. And even then, the government still abides by rules and laws that couldn't even foresee a crisis like the one we are currently facing. Their inability to meet this emergency head on and to make decisive decisions is seriously lacking and exposes Japan's crisis management failure. It's like arriving at a mass casualty accident and asking the injured how they feel and asking them to fill out the paperwork. With all the taxes we pay and being squandered by the politicians it's absolutely infuriating.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Are schoolchildren really educated about rice? They should be taught about it.

They should be taught that Japanese rice is overpriced.

They should be taught that Japanese rice is overpriced to support farmers.

They should be taught that Japanese rice is overpriced to support farmers because farmers vote for the LDP.

They should be taught that the stockpile exists to support the high price of Japanese rice, which supports farmers, who support the LDP.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

A rolling stock of about 1 million tons is maintained in warehouses around the country, with older rice sold as feed.

For me, this is the key sentence here. They are prepared to sell off the stockpile to another pampered agricultural sector, livestock/poultry farming, rather than help people who are struggling. "sold as feed" means dumped at what must be a very low price, probably lower than very cheap imported maize and seed cake (the residue from vegetable oil and ethanol production).

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan has to introduce Japanese version of "Food Stamp."

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"The pandemic has highlighted often-overlooked poverty in Japan, which boasts the world's third largest economy but where the poverty rate stands at 15.7%, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)."

but the poverty in the US, which is the world's largest economy is at 18% and in Korea it is 17%. I wonder why those stats where not mentioned?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Japanese gov is way too cosy with the LDP agricultural section!

1 million tons! and they won't feed the poor..Absolutely woeful!!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I understand the importance of the rice stockpile and the history behind why it is there but this situation would seem to warrant its use and not only for children but for a wider segment if the population. One meal a day for a University student is pretty bad.

For those here who want to help directly and have the means to do so 2nd Harvest in Tokyo is helping people (and has been for a couple of decades).

2 ( +3 / -1 )

But the move by the government to release stockpiled rice to charities comes with the requirement that it be used for children, which campaigners fear limits the impact and they are calling for the rules to be eased.

"We're bound by the law to use the stockpile only in the event of a supply shortage in the market, or for the purpose of food education.' We can't use it for welfare," said an official for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). "This is the extent of what we can do."

Maybe the government could be incentivized to move forward with such needed reforms by repackaging this as "GoTo Food Bank".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Anecdotal reports cut both ways. One student I know, laid off at her part time job at a hotel, organized through a 派遣会社, has been receiving monthly support of 5万円 since the middle of last year. Regular as clockwork, the money arrives in and she doesn’t have to do a thing for it. She told me that she immediately went and found another job to fill in all those hours freed up. No rice shortages for her!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, political will can defy rules for the greater good. Japanese "leaders" don't have political will.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

when does Japan give anything away for free, in my country cars holidays are given away all the time as prizes, best you can hope for in Japan is a playstation

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

We do not have statesmen of lofty mind in Japan but arbitrators of interests.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hope it gets better for you.

And for all those who are not politicians or their families.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Isn't a government ment to improve life?

if one wants life improved, waiting for the government to improve it will be a futile exercise.

Government is the cause of many problems, and rarely the solution to any.

Second Harvest Japan’s homepage is here for those inclined: 2hj.org/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

if the import tax on rice was not so exorbitant, people would not have to pay such exorbitant prices for rice.

Exactly. Yet another case of government policy-inflicted damage.

A case where self-protectionism is proving counter-productive.

It’s never true self-protectionism. It is protectionism for vested interests, paid for by the rest of us including the poor.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's like arriving at a mass casualty accident and asking the injured how they feel and asking them to fill out the paperwork. With all the taxes we pay and being squandered by the politicians it's absolutely infuriating.

Politicians and “public servants”. Tell me about it.

Can you imagine a private sector business where paying fees was mandatory but to receive any service in return you have to fill out some paperwork and provide copies of documents of this and that, and when you got anything out of it it was worth less to you than the fees you paid and the rigmarole of the paperwork?

Of course you’d take your business elsewhere.

Why do we persist with this notion that centralized bureaucracies might help us and spend our money for us better than we might be able to spend it for ourselves?

I’d rather keep more of my money, and spare my time instead of filling out paperwork, in exchange for being more responsible and in control over my own affairs.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

A rolling stock of about 1 million tons is maintained in warehouses around the country, with older rice sold as feed.

I wondered if any of that older rice ends up in the chain restaurants like Yoshinoya and such as they charge fresh rice prices.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Looks like these govt. officials need to fire themselves. They are out of touch and can’t make common sense decisions anymore and need to retire to playing board games. Just like the old inept Olympic director.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

We're bound by the law to use the stockpile only in the event of a supply shortage in the market, or for the purpose of'food education.' We can't use it for welfare," said an official for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). "This is the extent of what we can do."

Perhaps the ruling LDP politicians could spare a few hours from their super busy hostess club and high end restaurant checking schedules to get off their ass to amend the above mentioned law. It's kind of their job that they get overpaid handsomely for from our taxes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You gotta love Japan, the people in charge and who can change the laws saying, "Our hands are tied! It's the law!"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It is unconscionable that

people are going hungry in the world’s third largest economy. It is the responsibility of the government to protect everyone within its territory.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Millions are suffering from the pandemic, the contract and gig workers.

Under WTO rules, Japan imports millions of tons of America rice which is placed in silo storage in Hokkaido which costs ¥150 million per year in charges. After two years of storage it’s sold on cheap for animal feed.

Can't be exported without permission from America. Can’t be used for welfare donations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Japanese government seems to often claim that there are things it can't do because of the law. Are they not aware that they can change the law?

They said all last year that they couldn't enforce a lockdown because they were bound by the law, and then suddenly recently they were proposing to change the law so they could fine or jail people who ignored covid rules.

So they weren't bound by the law at all last year, they just couldn't be bothered to change it.

If they wanted to use the stockpile for welfare I bet they could change the relevant law within days if they tried.

Sigh.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

but the poverty in the US, which is the world's largest economy is at 18% and in Korea it is 17%. I wonder why those stats where not mentioned?

Because it's an article about food poverty in Japan?

confused

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Groups like Second Harvest and food banks could put to use the rice in storage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I guess you know that in other countries people have not only once a day a meal because of the shut downs!

I guess you know that there are children that rarely eat in countries other than Japan. Are you also concerned about them? Do you think we should all be pitching in to help them, or are you only concerned with Japanese people?

Of course you are right, we should not let run the Virus its course, but in my opinion, if people get more sensibilzed to follow the basic rules like wear masks, keep social distance, use hand sanitizer, restaurants follow best preventions like keep space between customers or put shields on the tables...and so on,...then...shut downs are not necessary. 

You just articulated the needs for lockdowns: not everyone is sensible and follows the basic safety guidelines.

But you know I have one hope:

I hope that the vaccine will bring all of this to an end!

I agree 100%. Can’t happen quickly enough.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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