Farewell to The World's Poorest Agricultural Nation
Japan's food self-sufficiency ratio has finally dropped below 40%. That means we cannot survive without buying much of the food we eat from countries outside of Japan. And yet our government persists in policy-making aimed at reducing crop size. More subsidies for more land taken out of service, they say. This suicidal policy has continued for many decades. What about Japan’s consumers? While the whole world is buzzing about Japanese food, the Japanese are eating less and less of it. That means they are eating more Westernstyle food, which makes our self-sufficiency ratio fall even faster. We Japanese are walking a dangerous road of our own choosing. But there are a few that dare to challenge the situation in this poorest of agricultural nations. Who are these men that dream of farming on a global scale, and what are their chances of success?
The Middle East is buoyed today by what is said to be 100 trillion yen in oil money. The prime example is the emirate of Dubai in the UAE. With an eye to what happens after the oil runs dry, Dubai has worked to establish a fossil fuel free industrial infrastructure. As the financial center of the Middle East, it has also earned the name of the world’s top luxury resort. The world has been astounded lately by investments made by government-affiliated Dubai International Capital. Last May it bought a substantial stake in HSBC, one of Europe’s top banks, as well as Deutsche Bank, Germany’s number one bank. In August Dubai beat out Japan’s Uniqlo to acquire famed NY department store Barneys, and in November it was revealed that Dubai is now one of Sony’s largest shareholders. Now “Dubai Inc.” is a reality.
Though the Japanese media only complains about the damage caused by soaring crude oil prices, the companies that are actually engaged in economic activity are not stupid. They are certainly not forgetting about that 100 trillion yen in oil money. The gold rush of Japanese businesses into Dubai has begun in earnest. Among general contractors, Ohbayashigumi and Kajima are building a 52-kilometer rail line linking Dubai International Airport with free-trade zone Jebel Ali. Taisei is working on the sub-sea tunnel at the man-made Palm Island of Jumeirah, while Shimizu is building about 54 billion yen’s worth of luxury condos there. Many other Japanese companies from building material makers like Komatsu to auto and electronics makers are establishing offices in Dubai.
People are naturally drawn to where the money is, and that’s where a culture is born. That has been true from the dawn of history, anywhere in the world that a city rises and falls, and today Dubai is reaching for its peak. It’s only natural that Japanese business would be flooding into Dubai. But who would have thought that Japanese farmers would be doing the same?