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An Interview with Mr. Shigeaki Okamoto, Shinsengumi Inc., who attended the meeting of the Working Group on the National Strategic Special Zones on Sep 9.

※This is reprinted by the Tokyo Press Club

The Invitation for Proposals Concerning “National Strategic Economic Growth Areas”

His Proposal document is here

-What did you propose?

Okamoto>We think of creating a profitable agriculture in the special zones. The key words are farmer’s independence and growth. I proposed the idea of “hometown lunch” which farmers do not only grow the raw material but also process the value-added food using their originalities.
The hometown lunch will bring profits to the farmers as business, and will also serve as a triggering device to transform the agriculture into a growth industry creating employments and reactivating the local communities.
For example, the current domestic price of (unpolished) rice is 12,500 yen/60kg, which does not bring about profits to the farmers, or rather loses their incentives and makes them more dependent on the government subsidies. They can’t survive the international competition, of course.
By simply processing rice into onigiri by the “hometown lunch”, the end price of rice will become as high as 140,000/60kg. And that profit will directly be reflected into the farmers’ incentives. And many regulative measures should be relaxed for that sake.
We seek to design a mechanism which sublimates local food cultures into the values of the urban consumers by relaxing the existing regulations on the land use and other local regulations.
First, we will establish headquarter in each special zone which places greatest importance on the farmers’ growth. The headquarters will be handed authority over the land use. Also, we’ll liberalize the credit loans to enable dynamic fund-raising by the agricultural corporations, freeing the farmers’ fund-raising method now exclusively dependent on the JA.
We seek the farmers’ growth and local revitalization through these deregulations.
Our specific ideas include “Kamakura Restaurant” in Akita prefecture which processes the mushrooms naturally grown in the fallow fields, plantation and tourism restaurants utilizing pebbles made of the local rice powder in Aichi prefecture, delivery of lettuce and other vegetables to the U.S. military bases in Okinawa prefecture, lamb/mutton restaurant to meet needs of Islamic visitors, etc.

-How did you feel about the hearing?

Okamoto>I think the passion of ours and the local farmers was fully delivered to the members.

Not only that the members understood our propositions, the questions from the members stood on the same perspective as ours and they were worth discussing for further considerations. We would like to move on to the next stage with the best efforts and ideas possible.

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