最近における農業・農村地域の変化に関する研究の一視点 [in Japanese] Recent Changes in Japanese Agriculture and Rural Areas:One View of the Research [in Japanese]
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Since the end of the high economic growth period, especially since the 1970s, very striking changes have occurred in agriculture and rural areas in Japan, especially with regard to the landscape, land use, and employment structure. These changes can be categorized roughly in terms of the response to the technological revolution, the relationship with changes in the local socioeconomic environment, and the impacts of urbanization and industrialization.<br> Among the changes wrought by the technological revolution were the mechanization and scientific fine-tuning of agricultural production. The development of agricultural infrastructure has changed the landscape, while the utilization of various types of modern farming equipment has led to a rapid increase in knowledge-intensive agriculture. The changes in the local environment which are gaining the most attention are related to the transportation revolution. This revolution has promoted the expansion of metropolitan markets to distant farming regions, as trucks are now generally used to bring produce to the market. Motorization has also had a tremendous effect: with the acquisition of private automobiles, farm families' chances for employment off the farm have greatly increased.<br> Regarding the changes in the local socioeconomic environment, expanding cities and an increase in the number of urban residents in rural areas have increased the demand for and diversity of agricultural products, which has in turn promoted the consolidation and expansion of production areas. At the same time, the increase in leisure time that has accompanied urban growth has raised the demand for rural areas to function also as recreational areas.<br> The impact of urbanization and industrialization has two aspects: the intensification of agriculture and the abandonment of farmland. The conversion of farmland to non-agricultural uses led to a diversification in the use of space in rural areas, as demand has increased for residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational areas. Urbanization, together with industrialization, accelerated the trend toward farming as a secondary occupation, leading to the abandonment of much arable land. In terms of land use and scenery, there has been noticeable competition and intermeshing between city and country, which has led to a more diversified make-up of rural populations and landscapes.<br> To understand the changes in Japanese agriculture and rural areas, we must understand the fundamental character of farm management. The average size of a Japanese farm has been an extremely small 1. 1 hectares (2. 8 acres). In the past, a relatively high proportion of the yield was reserved for the use of the producer, with only a minuscule amount being sold at market. Combined with the fact that agriculture was mostly a secondary occupation, we can see that farming in Japan has been on a very small scale. These characteristics, which have in places persisted to this day, are typical of the traditional type of farming (i.e., before the period of high economic growth).<br> However, since the high economic growth period, increases in crop production and decreases in the size of farm families have led to a decline in self-sufficiency farming, and commercial production has become much more important. As farming practices became more mechanized, the scale of a typical operation increased, as did the production scale not only of rice, but of vegetables and fruits as well, and the horticulture of flowers, ornamental plants, specialty crops, etc., began to emerge. However, as nonfarm employment increased, farming became even more of a part-time occupation, and most farm families began to derive more income from outside sources than from crop production. This means that after the start of the period of high economic growth, land, labor, and capital were being diverted away from traditional agriculture, and an increasing number of farmers were abandoning cultivation altogether.
- Geographical review of Japan, Series B.
Geographical review of Japan, Series B. 73(3), 147-160, 2000-03-01
The Association of Japanese Geographers