Politics of Food (In)Security in East Asia: Insatiable Appetite for World Food and Agricultural Resources

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Shuji HISANO , Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
This paper will be focused on backgrounds of and perspectives for the food (in)security politics in Japan and East Asia, and could therefore be an introduction to the session.

With its rapid economic growth, East Asia is widely recognised as one of the most important regions in the world economy. Despite its significance in the globalised agrifood system, very little has been discussed in international academic communities about the realities and transformations of the agricultural sector, food systems, and rural societies in the region. Because of its consumer affluence and limited agricultural resources, the extent of the region’s heavy dependence on food imports has become too significant to be disregarded. According to FAOSTAT, the region accounts for 28.9% and 64.5% of the total volume of world maize and soybeans imports, and 15.6% of the total value of world agricultural imports in 2010. This situation is unsustainable not only for regional economies but also for the world food economy in the era of “the end of cheap food”. A heightened sense of “food crisis”, especially since the 2007/2008 world food price crisis, can be observed at every corner of political, economic and civil society in the region. Unfortunately, in the mainstream discourse, our “food security concerns” are appropriated and manipulated to justify the business-as-usual agricultural and food policy for further agricultural trade liberalisation (e.g. KORUS and TPP) and large-scale overseas farmland investment (i.e. land grabbing) in order to make food accessible in the globalised market at the expense of food sovereignty within and beyond the region.

In this paper, the development of policies and discourses on food (in)security will be critically analysed as a underlying basis for further empirical studies with a perspective for social mobilisation of food sovereignty in the region.