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Japan: Three New “Promotion Acts” Under Jurisdiction of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry

(Sept. 25, 2014) The last three acts of the 2014 regular Diet session, promulgated on June 26, 2014, were “promotion acts” aimed at promoting particular agricultural and fishery industries: pig farming, ornamental plant cultivation, and inland water fisheries. Under each Act, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) will establish a national basic promotion policy, and the prefectures are encouraged to establish their own basic policies to promote each industry.

The Pig Farming Promotion Act promotes pig farming by prescribing measures to ensure the pig farmers’ economic stability, increase the use of domestic feed materials, and expand pork consumption. (Pig Farming Promotion Act No. 101 of 2014, art. 1; the text of the draft legislation, which became law without change, is available on the Japanese House of Representatives website [in Japanese].) Increased use of domestic pig feed materials is seen as having two benefits. One is that rice paddies now used for high quality rice, currently over-produced, can be diverted for growing feed rice. The other is that leftover food can be diverted for pig feed, reducing waste and benefiting the environment. (Yasuhiro Hanashi, Pig Farming Promotion Act Passed – Importance of Legislation Adopted by Members of Parliament [in Japanese], Yasuhiro Hanashi website (June 29, 2014).)

The second Act is the Ornamental Plants Promotion Act. (Act No. 102 of 2014; the text of the act is available on MAFF website [in Japanese].) The ornamental flower industry appears promising as an area for expansion of exports. (Ornamental Plants Export Strategies (Reference Material) [in Japanese], MAFF (Aug. 2013).) The national government is to endeavor to implement measures to support efficient use of energy for and protect intellectual property in relation to ornamental plants and to compensate ornamental plant farmers for losses incurred due to either natural disasters or sudden increases in energy costs. (Ornamental Plants Promotion Act, art. 6) The national and local governments must endeavor to support research and development in regard to ornamental plants to improve productivity and the quality of the plants. (Id. art. 7.) The national and local governments are also to work to increase exports of ornamental plants. (Id. art. 10.)

The third Act is the Inland Water Fisheries Promotion Act. (Act No. 103 of 2014; the text of the legislation, which became law without change, is available on the House of Representatives website [in Japanese].) The national and local governments are to endeavor to research the environment of living organisms in inland waters. (Id. art. 11.) They must also work to implement measures to produce and release inland water organisms into the wild and promote research and development on production technologies for such organisms. (Id. art. 12.)

In addition, the national and local governments are to support measures to control invasive foreign species, such as largemouth bass, and birds and animals that eat inland water organisms. (Id. art. 13.) The national and local governments must also endeavor to protect and restore natural environments surrounding inland waters. (Id. arts. 15-19.)

Permission to conduct certain types of aquatic farming is subject to requirements laid down by the MAFF. This farming requires government management to maintain the sustainable development of aqua-farming of particular species; there is also a need for uniform regulation in relation to agreements with foreign governments. (Id. art. 26.) This provision anticipated an eel farming agreement between northeast Asian countries. Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea have very recently agreed “to set limits on the amount of glass eels that can be procured by eel farmers to prevent overfishing of the fry eels, which are used in eel farming.” (Yosuke Watanabe, Japan, China, Taiwan, S. Korea Agree to Cut Eel Procurement by 20%, ASAHI NEWSPAPER (Sept. 18, 2014).)