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Japan: New Urban Farming Promotion Basic Act

(June 4, 2015) Japan’s Urban Farming Promotion Basic Act was promulgated on April 22, 2015. (Act No. 14 of 2015 (text of bill), House of Representatives website (in Japanese).)

The Act confirms that urban farming is beneficial for the society:

  • to provide a source of fresh and safe products;
  • to give urban residents the opportunity to engage in agricultural activities, e.g., through allotment gardens;
  • to offer open space for disaster management, including space for prevention of the spread of fire and for residents’ evacuation in the case of earthquakes;
  • to serve as a resource for recreation and spiritual comfort; and
  • to provide education and awareness-raising to improve urban residents’ understanding of agriculture and food issues. (Id. art. 3¶ 1; Raquel Moreno-Peñaranda, Japan’s Urban Agriculture: Cultivating Sustainability and Well-being, United Nations University website (Sept. 20, 2011).)

The new Act obligates national and local governments to promote urban farming. High property tax rates on urban farming land that are almost equivalent to the rates for residential land have in the past discouraged urban farming. The tax system will be reconsidered to address this problem. (Urban Farming Promotion Basic Act Enacted, Appreciation of Multiple Functions [of Urban Farming], Obligates the National Government, House of Reps, JAPAN AGRICULTURAL NEWS (Apr. 17, 2015) (in Japanese).)