Japan Recommends Land Investment Rules

Japan is to propose introducing a set of principles to ensure smooth investment in agriculture in developing countries at a Group of Eight summit in Italy in July, a Foreign Ministry official said May 27, in a move to limit “land-grabbing.”

Some developed countries that are not self-sufficient in food output have been aggressively stepping up investment in overseas farmland, especially in Africa, as a way to secure food.

“We feel there should be a code of conduct, a set of principles, for investment in farmland that will be a win-win situation for both producing and consuming countries,” said Tamaki Tsukada, director of the economic security division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“There’s a need to provide a scheme to ensure private sector investments are promoted while the interests of the producing countries are preserved,” he said.

Japan’s proposal will likely be phrased in general terms to avoid being seen as legally binding, he said.

Tsukada said he expected to draw support for Japan’s initiative as it will not be restrictive.

“We expect that such a code of conduct will help prevent companies from behaving in an abusive manner, while keeping a free flow of investments,” Tsukada said.

Competition to secure food production has gained momentum in the past few years as prices of grains have soared on expectations of greater demand from booming emerging countries, exposing countries with low food self-sufficiency rates, such as Japan, to the volatility of the commodities markets.

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