The Japanese government has failed to contribute meaningfully to agricultural trade negotiations. Japan’s extreme negotiation posture primarily stems from a disinclination to make concessions in its domestic rice market. It is also a result of the ability of Japan, and other developed nations, to take advantage of the rule structure outlined by the Agreement on Agriculture. Under current agricultural laws, Japan is able to maintain many domestic measures that provide support for rice farmers while also charging prohibitively high tariffs. Japan’s reluctance to limit its support for domestic rice farmers is based on the premise that rice plays a central role in Japanese culture, and without protection, the industry would collapse. What Japan has failed to realize, however, is that the bases of its arguments have little merit today. Perhaps more importantly, Japanese resistance to agricultural trade reform seriously undermines the legitimacy of the WTO
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