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Press translations [Japan]. Economic Series 0087, 1945-12-20.
Supreme Commander for The Allied Powers. Allied Translator and Interpreter Section.

translation-number: economic-0422

call-number: DS801 .S81

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No. 422 Date: 20 Dec 45


ITEM 1 Details Concerning the Areas to be Held by Landlords - Asahi Shinbun - 17 Dec 45. Translator: K. Sato.
Full Translation:
The committee meeting of the House of Peers on the amendment bill for the Farm Land Adjustment Law was opened on l6 December. INADA, Masaue, acted as chairman, and the interpellation followed. Agriculture and Forestry Minister MATSUMURA made the following reply concerning areas to be held by landlords:
"The standard will he set by each To (city), Do (province), Fu, and Ken (prefecture). Prefectural governors will make out the details according to the circumstances peculiar to their areas on this basis."
Minister MATSUMURA also made some explanations concerning the buying of farms:
"The area expected to be established as owner-cultivator farms is 1,500,000 Chobu. Of this, 500,000 chobu will be bought by the agricultural associations. The remaining 1,000,000 chobu will be disposed of by a contract to be made between landlords and tenants through the mediation of the agricultural committee.
ITEM 2 Commentary on Agrarian Reform Bill. The Bill is a Touchetone for Emancipation of Peasants. - The Tokyo Shimbun - 17 Dec 45. Translator: J. Okamura.
On 9 December Supreme Headquarters issued a directive ordering the Japanese Government to initiate a sweeping program of agrarian reform to destroy the economic bondage which had enslaved the Japanese farmers for centuries. The directive pointed out (l) intense overcrowding on land, (2) conditions highly unfavorable to tenants, (3) a heavy burden of indebtedness, (4) government discrimination against farmers, (5) authoritative government control over farmers, and ordered the Japanese Government to enforce drastic agrarian reform by 15 March 1946.
The objectives of the Agrarian Reform Bill, which is now being deliberated at the current session of the Diet, are redistribution of arable land, and the fixing of farm rent at moderate prices. Consequently the bill coincidently agrees with the Supreme Command's directive in their common ideal to democratize Japanese agriculture. As the directive of the Supreme Commander points out, it is well known that Japanese farmlands are overcrowded. Of the total 5,500,000 farm households, 3,500,000 cultivate land measuring less than one chobu. This figure applies to 64 per cent of the total farmsteads. Over half of these 3,500,000 are the so-called "five tan farmers" (TN: Ten tan equals one chobu), indicating the poor living conditions of the peasant class.

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ECONOMIC SERIES: 87 (Continued)
ITEM 2 (Continued)
The area of arable lend to be cultivated by these minor farmers covers l,70,000 chobu, which is 30 per cent of the total arable land. Thus, the size of the average farm 9.8 tan, a conspicuous difference when compared with those in the UNTITED STATES and CANADA, which are four chobu and 33 chobu respectively.
The finnictive tenure system of Japanese agriculture together with the high rate of farm rent, results in poor production. The major cause of this poor production is the unfair and unreasonable system of ownership of land by landlords.
This fact can he easily understood if we consider the high percentage of tenant farms. About 2,610,000 chobu of arable land consists of tenant farms. Farm rent is very high, for it was inherited from feudal times. Japanese farmers are compelled to offer more than half of their harvests to their landlords as farm rent. With the remaining half crop, they support their families and plant next year's crop. The high rate of farm rent is clearly shown in investigations conducted by the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
According to these investigations farm rents of two-crop and one-crop paddle fields respectively, average 49 per cent and 45 per cent of the harvest. Compare this with 10 to 20 per cent of the total harvest as farm rent in major agrarian countries. In the economy of Japanese tenant farming farm rent ranks too among all expenditures with and average of 40 per cent. Consequently, when such costly farm rent is paid, farmers get a very small income for their daily labor. On the other hand, income of landlords gained through farm rent is not consumed for agricultural production, but it is usually spent in big cities for other purposes. This system has been the main hindrance to the development of sound agriculture in our country.
The reason why the Government submitted such a drastic Agrarian Reform Bill to the current session of the Diet is that the present situation compels prompt solution of the land problems. The newly drafted bill provided for the creation of peasant proprietors (JISAKU NO), which is assumed to be a moderate method of land distribution. There are many better ways to divide agricultural land, as we see in the cases of GERMANY and BULGARIA, where land is to be owned by the state.
The Bill provides that the arable land will be owned by peasant proprietors upon completion of installment payments over a period of 24 years. This measure is understood to meet the typical agrarian conditions and customs of JAPAN. This is also a manifestation of the policy to which Minister of Agriculture and Forestry MATSUMURA adheres. The chief characteristic of the new bill is the provision regulating that disposal of land by land owners. This provision is subject to authorization by prefectural governors or agrarian land committees to be organized in every prefecture. Another characteristic is disapproval of the ownership of more than five chobu of land, regardless of absentee landlords, in order to turn over 1,500,000 chobu to peasant proprietors in five years.
In order to realize the 100 per cent democratization of all Japanese farming villages, the area of five chobu will be too large, and we are of the opinion that three chobu will be good enough. The amendment for the authorization to own land from three to five chobu seems to have last its significance. By such an amendment, the land owned by landlords to which the provisions of the bill are to be applied, declines by 500,000 chobu. But we are not reluctant to admit the great achievements which the enforcement of the new bill will attain to realize 60 per cent felf cultivation of the total tenant farm land of 3,610,000 chobu.
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ECONOMIC SERIES: 87 (Continued)
ITEM 2 (Continued)
The payment in kind as farm-rent has been prohibited, and payment in cash has been introduced. The pay rate has also been fixed at 55 yen, which is the land owners' purchasing price of rice, for the current crop year. This payment amendment will be welcomed by the peasant classes for tenants used to pay in kind at the rate of one koku of rice for an area of one tan. With the gradual soaring of the price of rice, tenants had to pay high farm rent in kind. With the aggravation of inflation, the burdens of the tenant classes mill be lightened, if the payment is to be made in cash. In case the price of rice falls, the liabilities of tenants become heavier, but such fluctuation will be adequately readjusted by prefectural governors or agrarian land committees.
Thus, the fundamental basis for eliminating feudalistic elements in Japanese agriculture has been established. But it is still a problem of the future whether or not agriculture in this country will make steady progress. It is still doubted whether the stability of peasant proprietors can he maintained when reaction occurs, or to what extent tenants will show their zeal in production after their situation has been improved. The management of the agrarian land committee will be another vital factor in realizing land, reform.
The epoch making agrarian land reform bill, which will play a large part in deciding the success or failure of the democratization of Japanese agriculture, was formally submitted on 5 December to the plenary session of the House of Representatives. The Bill was keenly discussed at the session on two successive days of 5 and 6 December, Further deliberate were made at the committee meetings which were from 7 December to 12 December,
Interpellation focussed upon the bill throughout the five day committee meetings were diversified, but they were mostly conciliatory opinions representing the ideas of the landowner classes. Questions were concentrated on three vital points: (l) the extent of acreage of land to be possessed by the landlords; (2) prices of land to be sold by land, lords, and (3) payment of farm, rent in cash.
The following is the gist of queries and replies made at the committee meetings:
In connection with the amount of land to be owned by individual landlords, there wasn't a single member who vigorously demanded that the limit be in excess of five chobu. However, most of the interpellators tried in vain to let the Government admit the possession of land over five chobu as "exceptional cases," These interpellators seem to have lacked the knowledge of the impending democratization, and to be trying to adhere to the feudalistic ideals.
In this connection, Mr. TSTUCHIYA, Hiroshi, of the Progressive Party, said, "To turn tenants into proprietors will result in an increase of minor farmers; and. I would like to suggest that the amount of land to be possessed by landlords be fixed at five chobu at least, and possession of an area over five chobu be approved in accordance with the rural conditions."
To this Minister MATSUBMURA replied, "I cannot agree with the opinion of Mr. TSUCHIYA to raise the limit over five chobu. This assignment is based on the fundamental policy of sending absentee landowners to their own fields to cultivate them themselves. But if the Government intended to hold to the self-cultivation principle. it would not be necessary to limit the acreage to a minimum of five chobu because three chobu, as originally planned, would be enough. The smaller the land, the better will be the results. On this point, therefore, we may assume that the answer made by the Minister lacks concrete foundation and reveals the conciliatory nature of the bill."
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ECONOMIC SERIES: 87 (Continued)
ITEM 2(Continued)
Mr. AKAGI, a Progressive, asked why the extent of acreage is not clearly mentioned in the bill; however, it is provided that this is to be settled by Imperial ordinance. Clause Four of Article Four provides, "agricultural land which does not exceed the area provided by an Imperial ordinance", but it does not give figures. This is attributed to the fact that is impossible to give specific figures in many cases, though the average land, throughout the country may be fixed at five chobu.
Selling prices of farm land provided another difficult problem. According to the rate fixed by the Government, paddy and other fields of the "medium class" cost, respectively, 757.60 yen and 446.98 yen, while landlords prices are 978.53 yen and 577.33 yen. These are differences of 220 yen and 131 yen. The Government has set its subsidies at 150 yen and 90 yen to cover such differences, and has been strongly urged to increase these subsidies to cover the actual differences of 220 yen and 131 yen. The Agricultural Minister, in this connection, replied that he would agree to the revision of these amounts.
Major representatives of the Diet are worried about the exoritant black market prices of rice. Rice is being sold at over 1,000 yen per bale at black market prices. The price of land sufficient to raise this amount of rice is less than 1,000 yen. The situation is very irrational representatives pointed out. However, selling prices of fields are no small burden for minor tenant classes. To make matters worse, general high prices of commodities are providing an extra burden for these tenants.
Mr. YAMAGUCHI, a Progressive, pointed out that landowners must pay more yen for rice than its selling price, since the landlords' prices and consumers' prices are set at different levels. He points out that it is not fair to decide the prices of fields without considering the differences in the price of rice. Government authorities did not give a definite answer on this point.
The third and most discussed problem was the payment of farm rent in cash. The opposing attitude of the committee members, who are regarded as being representatives of the landlords, toward the cash payment system is attributed to the decline of the value of currency. This tendency was manifested in the following opinions expressed by Mr. MORI, Hajime, a Progressive, and several other members.
"When the payment of farm rent in cash instead of in kind is enforced, tenants will not be guaranteed a reduction in rent when crops are poor. Those who suffer most by the sharp decline in prices of domestic rice due to the importation of foreign rice must be the tenants. There is not much possibility for newly-created, independent farmers to sustain severe blows on such occasions."
In this respect, Director WADA of the Agricultural administrative Bureau declared that it was not always necessary to discount rice prices when cash payments were properly managed. The Government, he said, could continue the control of staple foods even if rice were imported from abroad. He also assured the economic stability of independent peasants by saying, "such peasants are expected to adjust themselves to the situation created by economic instability, and get along."
It is, however, doubted whether the Government will maintain rice prices, as it says it will, in case the agrarian classes meet depression through the international market, after the cash payment.
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ECONOMIC SERIES: 87 (Continued)
ITEM 2 (Continued)
Against interpellations put by Mesars. TAKADA, Kohei, and YOSHIUE, Shryo, concerning the anticipated decline of the amount of rice to be offered for sale at the enforcement of the cash payment system, Government authorities replied, "The Government expects an increase in the amount of rice to be offered when measures to encourage the offering of rice among the peasant classes are taken and redistribution of rice among producers is conducted properly."
It was also pointed out by committee members that landlords who are compelled to turn themselves into independent farmers and beginning to request their tenants to return their land. It is not too much to say that most of the committee members intertained a rather negative attitude toward the revolutionary land reform bill, as can be seen form their opinions revealed at a series of meetings. The reason for the bill's passage is due, mainly, to the directive issued on 10 December by the Supreme. Commander in connection with agrarian reform.
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HomePress translations [Japan]. Economic Series 0087, 1945-12-20.
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