Japan is a mountainous region where arable land is scarce and therefore Japan is far from food self-sufficiency, importing 60% of its annual grains consumed (McDonald, 2011). Rice is a national crop in Japan, and the government has put subsidies and support means to encourage its farmers to produce rice in large quantities for its population. Once the earthquake hit Japan and consequently by the tsunami, the country was left with destroyed land and infrastructure. Lands were flooded therefore, agricultural activities couldn’t take place and, even after flooding the land could not be used because of the salt left behind by ocean water. These factors ensured that Japan’s food self-sufficiency was threatened despite the country having enough grain supplies stored. The flooding swept away farming machinery and farm storage; it also destroyed infrastructure such that produce could not be distributed effectively. Power infrastructure destroyed also meant that power tools in the farms and processing of farm produce in factories was disrupted. The tsunami also destroyed stored food at two of its twelve major ports which may hamper importation to the regions the ports served (Johnson, 2011).
A shortage in rice production would follow the tsunami not only because of the damaged land but also destroyed road and rail networks, power supply and storage all contributed. According to the law of supply, a fall in the supply of a commodity would cause an increase in price in the short-term, therefore immediately after the earthquake the price of rice inside Japan would increase from private suppliers who had previous inventory of rice. The government of Japan has a policy of storing surplus rice produced in the country instead of exporting it, the policy has created security of rice but only for the short-term maybe until when the farmers can plant again (McDonald, 2011). The rice industry in Japan is closely controlled by government and because it would have the largest single stockpile the price of rice inside Japan would return to relatively as before the tsunami, as it would force other suppliers to reduce their prices in order to remain competitive
Rice is the staple food in Japan therefore, consumed in large quantities soon stored grain would run out if the damage to land did not restore by the time its planting season for rice therefore, rice would have to be imported starting with the abolishing of importation restrictions of rice that have been set by the government to protect Japan’s rice industry. In the long-term Japan will have to depend on rice imports in order to prepare for the shortage of inventory and mainly to meet its internal consumer demand therefore, increasing demand of rice from the world or international market. The law of demand prescribes that an increase in commodity demand results to a decrease in price of the good therefore, the world rice prices would reduce due to an increase in demand because of the addition of Japan to the demand pool. This means that individuals or parties demanding rice from international suppliers would be able to buyat lower prices than before the earthquake.
However if Japan can to restore the land back to production it will be able once again to supply its citizens with enough rice to cause a halt of importation of rice by the government therefore, causing the changes to international rice prices to increase back to its normal state.
K. Mc.Donald. What Effect will the recent Tsunami, Earthquake, and Nuclear Disaster have upon Japan’s Agriculture? 2011, Retrieved from: http://www.bigpictureagriculture.com/2011/03/what-effect-will-recent-tsunami.html
Renee Johnson. Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Food and Agriculture Implications. Congressional Research Service, 2011.