Date : September 26, 2008
Video Report:September 26, 2008 【NIIGATA CITY Press Tour (Mayor Akira Shinoda’s press conference)】
post date : 2013.08.30
Niigata, “the Home of Rice” has 63% food self-sufficiency – Steps towards food and energy security
〜Rice Flour Production and Consumption, and Bio Ethanol from Rice Plants〜
Press conference by Mr. Akira Shinoda, Mayor, Niigata City (September 26, 2008)
(1)Government Ordinance City with 63% food self-sufficiency
In April 2007, Niigata City became the first government ordinance-designated city on the Japan Sea side of Honshu. Niigata has a food self-sufficiency rate of 63%. From this figure alone you can see that for Niigata to be designated as a government ordinance city is unprecedented for a city of this kind. The biggest pillar supporting agriculture in Niigata is rice farming. Niigata city provides comfort with its spacious land area and at the same time provides the excitement of an urban city. So it has both of these characteristics.
(2)Niigata, an economic hub of Northeast Asia and beyond
We have been building the idea of the initiative, “North East Economic Region” and are now moving towards the stage of full operation. The world’s largest international trade route is shifting from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Japan, while Pusan in South Korea as well as Shanghai and Ting Tao in China are becoming hub ports in the world.
(3)Niigata, a base of clean energy
In Niigata City, there is a move to produce new clean energy. The bio fuel plant, which is now being built by JA Zen-noh Niigata, is getting into operation. Another clean energy plant being built is a dio methyl ethanol plant. This has been built by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co., Ltd. with other companies. Niigata city hopes to continue being an economic hub in North East Asia as well as playing a role as a base of clean energy and food in Japan.
Question: soaring food price through bio fuel production
Mayor: If Niigata city or Japan as a whole were using the edible rice for the production of bio fuel, it would have an impact on the food prices in other countries. I don’t think there will be such an impact. However there are emotional reactions to using food for bio fuel. This kind of objection is also seen among Japanese people.
Question: food aid by reusing abandoned rice paddies
Mayor: Rice is the most suitable crop in Niigata. I think it is possible for the city administration to take the lead in classifying the usage of its farm land for different applications. And we will be able to utilize all the agricultural land fully for rice production. In the last fiscal year, we were able to provide some of the minimum access-designated rice, that Japan was obliged to import, with starving nations as an aid.
Question: impact of ex-Premier Koizumi’s reform --- positive / negative
Mayor: A positive impact from Mr. Koizumi’s reform is that it put an end to economic stagnation, the so-called “lost 10 years”, as well as the financial crisis. This had a positive effect on Niigata’s economy. However, the measures he took in his reform in the latter half of his administration term, such as reform of the social security system, for example, a health care system for the upper-stage elderly, is currently realized and becomes a problem for the local governments to protect the livelihood of people in the regions. I think that what Mr. Koizumi did in his reform was to take away the sense of security of the Japanese people.
Question: about the General Election
Mayor: In the General Election, people in Japan need to know where Japan is heading for and should be given some choices based on a manifesto set by each political party. These manifestos must contain a fiscal plan and clear action plan for the future. This would be necessary at the very least.