Securing Fish for the Nation: Food Security and Governmentality in Japan

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Asian Studies Review, 2013, 37 (2), pp. 215 - 233
Issue Date:
2013-06-01
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Concerns about supplies of food have been a feature of Japanese politics since Japan started modernising in the second half of the 1800s. It has remained a prominent political issue even after Japan cemented its status as a wealthy country in the 1980s, with the Japanese Government continuing to protect domestic food production from international competition. Protectionism is a curious policy for a country so dependent on world trade, including for food. Protectionist practices have led to entrenched interests in some sections of government and industry. Protectionist ideas are used in nationalist arguments against food imports. The protection of domestic food production, however, resonates positively well beyond the groups that benefit economically from protection and those that indulge in chauvinist notions about the dangers of "foreign" food. The issue, therefore, is broader than interest-group capture or xenophobia. We find it is deeply embedded in Japanese policies relating to food domestically and internationally, and goes beyond government policy as such, involving ways of thinking about protection of national culture, and social and environmental responsibility. Michel Foucault's notion of governmentality helps to explain this approach to food security, accounting for the balancing act between free trade and protection as well as the pervasiveness of this rationality beyond government as such. © 2013 Copyright Asian Studies Association of Australia.
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