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2008年5月19日 (月)


(May. 19, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Soaring grocery bills food for thought

食料品値上げ 供給と消費を総点検せよ(5月19日付・読売社説)

There is no end in sight for the surge in food prices, triggered by skyrocketing prices of basic foodstuffs and grain feeds for domestic animals.

Bread prices, which were hiked late last year, were recently raised again and the price of hamburgers at fast-food chains soon will increase again. The makers of instant noodles are considering another price hike for their products.



Butter is now in such short supply that it has disappeared from store shelves in many areas, and many municipal governments are raising school lunch fees to accommodate higher foods prices. Family budgets have been directly affected by the recent surge in food prices.


Once again, developments in the nation's food situation have served to highlight a sore spot for Japan--its dependence on foodstuffs produced in foreign countries. We should consider the current situation a warning that cannot be taken lightly and conduct a thorough examination of the nation's food supply and consumption situation.




The United States has released its projection that the nation's planting acreages for wheat and soybeans will increase this year. For this reason, international prices for wheat and soybeans dropped in April for the first time in 15 months.



Trend to continue                                                           


The price decline, however, does not mean that speculative funds have ceased to flow into the grain exchanges. Also, a structural factor--increased demand for grain in China and India--remains in place. The surge in grain exchange prices will not be arrested anytime soon.



arrest=引き止める、阻む ここでは逮捕するの意味ではない)

Last month, the government raised the price of imported wheat it sells to flour-milling companies by 30 percent. The effect of this on consumer prices has yet to be felt. It may, therefore, be safe to predict food prices will continue to rise for a certain period.


Taking up the issue of surging food prices, the government's 2007 white paper on agriculture stated: "It is possible the supply of food in the world will become extremely tight in the longer term." Japan, therefore, must expedite measures to secure a stable food supply both at home and from abroad.



If Japan wants to strengthen its agricultural sector, it is essential to enlarge the scale of each farm and improve productivity.



Private-sector members of the government's Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy have proposed further deregulation of farmland as well as expansion of corporate entry into the agricultural sector. Their proposals are in many ways similar to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry's agricultural land reform goals. We believe their proposals merit serious consideration.




Role of trade rules


One factor that pushed up grain prices was unilateral export restrictions imposed by grain producing countries. If these nations want to open up the farm markets in other nations, they first need to do their best to provide a stable supply of grains.


Japan has requested the World Trade Organization work out international rules on export restrictions imposed by grain producing nations. It is hoped that Japan--as the world's biggest net food importer--will play a leading role in building consensus on the issue.

Consumers, meanwhile, are advised to review their eating habits.




In fiscal 2004, Japan dumped 19 million tons of foods, equivalent to about three time the volume of food aid provided globally. That means Japanese people eat only about 70 percent of the food supplied to them in terms of calories.

On the other hand, metabolic syndrome has become a pressing issue.


in terms of calories=熱量ベースでは)

metabolic syndrome=新陳代謝現象?メタボリックシンドローム?この語句のより正しい日本語訳は何でしょうか? by Srachai)

Just as with energy conservation, Japan still has the capacity to conserve food. Simply lamenting the situation will not bring about change. We hope consumers will use the recent food price hikes as an opportunity to think about food issues as their own problem and put their thoughts into action.


lament=嘆く、悲しむ、後悔する)(bring about=もたらす)   

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 19, 2008)

20085190152  読売新聞)


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