Diplomatic Bluebook 2021

Chapter 3

Japan's Economic Diplomacy to Promote National and Global Interests

2 Ensuring Food Security

The global population in 2020 is estimated to be about 7.8 billion (prospects released by the UN Population Division), and this is expected to increase mainly in Africa and Asia. Changes in the dietary habits of people in developing countries will require a rapid increase in the production of feed grains. In Japan, while the country's food self-sufficiency rate (calorie basis (published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)) has been on a downward trend in the long-term, it has been leveling out in recent years, reaching 38% in FY2019. Japan relies on imports for much of its food, and to ensure a stable food supply for its people, the country needs to achieve the optimal ratio of importing to stockpiling, primarily by increasing domestic agricultural production.

Amid global concern over the tightening of supply and demand situation in the medium- to long-term, Japan must work to increase the food supply globally to continue securing stable food imports. For this purpose, ensuring sustainable approaches are also required for increasing production while reducing environmental impact. Japan must also establish robust food security through efforts that include the creation of a stable agricultural produce market and trading system to protect against food price instability caused by poor harvest conditions, natural disasters, etc.

The spread of COVID-19 has had an impact on global food security. Along with a temporary decrease in exports to Japan of vegetables produced and processed in China, steps have been taken in countries such as Russia and Viet Nam to restrict the export of wheat, rice and other products. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), more than 100 million people across particularly vulnerable regions could end up suffering from malnutrition as food access worsens due to economic decline and supply chain disruptions. Although the production of the world's staple grains and other produce is expected to be sufficient to satisfy demand, strengthening the food supply chain has become an urgent issue in light of concerns that COVID-19's effects could be long-term.

(1) Cooperation in International Frameworks Concerning Food Security

Based on the situations involving food export restrictions and supply chain disruptions due to the impact of COVID-19, the importance of maintaining and restoring supply chains and circumventing excessive trade restrictions has been highlighted in international frameworks. In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) released a joint statement calling for countries to ensure that their trade-related measures would not disrupt the food supply chain.

As efforts under the G20 framework, the G20 Extraordinary Agriculture Ministers Meeting was held virtually in April and the G20 Agriculture and Water Ministers Meeting was conducted virtually in September, both hosted by Saudi Arabia as chair. Participants discussed measures toward food security and other issues caused by COVID-19, and the “G20 Ministerial Statement on COVID-19” and “G20 Agriculture and Water Ministers Communiqué” were adopted at the meetings, respectively.

In APEC, members are engaging in related cooperation through the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) in collaboration with the private sector. At the APEC Virtual Ministerial Policy Dialogue on Food Security, held in October 2020 and chaired by Malaysia, participants discussed ensuring food security in light of the effects of COVID-19 and adopted the “Virtual Ministerial Policy Dialogue on Food Security Statement.”

(2) Cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)

As a responsible member of the international community, Japan supports the activities of the FAO, a specialized agency of the UN in the fields of food and agriculture. Japan, a major donor to the FAO and the third largest contributor of assessed contributions, significantly contributes to strengthening global food security through efforts such as providing development assistance in the areas of food and agriculture, and creating international rules that include food safety standards. Japan also works to strengthen its relationship with the FAO, holding Annual Strategic Consultations and conducting seminars for the general populace aimed at raising awareness for the FAO domestically.