15:00-16:00, Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's growth strategy calls for ambitious reforms to turn Japan's heavily regulated agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors into growth industries. The government hopes to increase the number of farming companies to 50,000 and expand the market to 10 trillion yen in 2020 from 1 trillion yen now. All this, while formulating a plan to double the income of farmers in the next decade.
Yet many Japan's farmers are set against the nation joining the TPP, a U.S.-led trade agreement, fearing the slashing of tariffs that are as high as 778 percent for domestic rice. Should the government join the trade pact, it will have to come up with measures to support farmers, who wield huge political influence through their force of numbers and the membership of Japan Agriculture farm co-operatives.
Hayashi also has to deal with the hit to the nation's agriculture sector from radiation fears after the meltdowns at the Fukushima plant two years ago. Only last week, South Korea banned imports of fish caught off the coast of eight prefectures including Fukushima in light of revelations that 300 tons of contaminated water leaked from the site.
Hayashi has agreed to come to the FCCJ to discuss these wide-ranging issues. The Yamaguchi native was educated at Tokyo University's law faculty before working in industry at several companies including Mitsui & Co. He has been a politician for nearly 20 years, previously holding positions such as defense minister and economy minister.