The Human Geographical Society of Japan « Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.63 No.2 (2011)

Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.63 No.2 (2011)

Vol.63 No.2 (2011)



NGUYEN Thi Ha Thanh
Conversion of Agricultural Land and its Impact on Peasants in Hanoi Suburbs During Rapid Urbanization: A Case Study of Me Tri Commune  1

ARAKI Hitoshi
Regional Food Logistics and the Vulnerability of Food Security: The Case of the Mikasa Foods Improper Rice Distribution Scandal  18

Research Notes

YOSHIDA Kunimitsu
The Background of Maintaining Terraced Paddy Fields in Mountain Villages: A Case Study of Ohnishi District, Nakajyo Village, Nagano Prefecture  37


Asian Area Studies and Geographical Education  53

Meeting Reports

271st Regular Meeting 72
121st Meeting of Historical Geography 75
102nd Meeting of Geographical Thought 77
37th Meeting of Metropolitan Area Studies 78
19th Research Seminar of Education of Geography Study Group 81
122nd Meeting of Historical Geography 83
38th Meeting of Metropolitan Area Studies 89
103rd Meeting of Geographical Thought 93

Announcement 95


Conversion of Agricultural Land and its Impact on Peasants in Hanoi Suburbs During Rapid Urbanization: A Case Study of Me Tri Commune

NGUYEN Thi Ha Thanh
Graduate Student, Global COE―Research Assistant, Kansai University

For the past fifteen years, Hanoi, the capital and second largest city of Vietnam, has spatially expanded, and the urban population rate has risen dramatically. The need to convert a great deal of agricultural land into industrial, commercial, and residential land has arisen to meet the challenges of this expansion. It is the aim of this paper to clarify the situation of conversion of agricultural land and its effects on peasants who have lost agricultural land in suburban areas of Hanoi. A bottom-up approach through household interviews was employed to examine the impact of conversion of agricultural land on peasants in a small-scale commune, Me Tri Commune, which is the case study of this research. The paper is composed of three parts. The first section highlights the rapid urbanization and policies of agricultural land recovery, especially compensation for loss of agricultural land, in Hanoi. The second section introduces agricultural land transition, agricultural land recovery and agricultural land compensation in Me Tri Commune from 2000 to 2007. It is acknowledged that the transition of Me Tri Commune from a rural area into an urbanized area at a rapid rate results in a deep transformation in the lifestyles and occupations of the peasants there, which gives rise to a great deal of problems and confusion. Three such problems that arose for peasants in Me Tri Commune during that period as a result of the process of agricultural land conversion included : a transition in labor, a decline in traditional foodstuff production, the use of compensation money, and future risks. Although most of the land that has been converted in Me Tri Commune during this urbanization was agricultural land and many peasants do not need to migrate from their own hometown, the research has clearly demonstrated that the challenges caused by agricultural land conversion in this commune have affected their lives greatly in every aspect.

Key words: urbanization, conversion of agricultural land, peasants, Hanoi, Vietnam

Regional Food Logistics and the Vulnerability of Food Security: The Case of the Mikasa Foods Improper Rice Distribution Scandal

ARAKI Hitoshi
Yamaguchi University Faculty of Education

Food security is an urgent issue in contemporary society, and there is a great deal of interest in how safe food supply systems should be constructed. It is necessary to identify the problems with current food supply systems and to plan ways to improve them, in order to upgrade their level of safety and security. The purpose of the present research is to make a contribution in terms of geography by using the case study of the Mikasa Foods scandal, exposed in 2008, which involved improper rice distribution. Three material sources are used to consider the specific circumstances. One is from Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) statements, and includes a list of the vendors who were regarded as the onward resellers of the tainted rice, while the others are two questionnaires conducted by the author. The first questionnire asked three industry groups―the sake brewing industry, the liquor retailing industry and the confectionery industry―about the impact of the incident. The second asked the vendors listed by the MAFF of the impact on them.
(1) From the MAFF data, it appeared that a small amount of tainted rice could move over long distances and diffuse over wide areas through the current complicated food supply system. The industry most affected by this was traditional Japanese sweets. (2) Answers to the industry group questionnaire indicated that even local businesses not on the list experienced declines in sales or had to close down. Traditional Japanese sweets manufacturers were particularly serious cases, as they have more frequent and more direct contact with consumers than do sake brewers.(3) The details of those impacted became clear from the questionnaire directed at vendors who were on the list. In addition to business operation problems, such as declines in sales of over 50% and it taking over one year for sales to recover to the level prior to the incident, many sufferred reputational damage, libelous claims, a cynical attitude on the part of media companies and inappropriate reactions by the relevant authorities.
Point (1) can be said to be a structural weakness of today’s highly complicated and immense food supply system. Short food supply chains may be effective but it would be difficult for them to replace the current system. Regarding point (2), it is important to disclose information about the actual distribution routes of tainted material to prevent harmful rumors from spreading. However, disclosure of information and harmful rumors are two sides of the same coin and the latter cannot be eradicated. Therefore, in practical terms, clarification of where responsibility lies for the incident, taking remedial action and paying restitution, can be effective in reducing risks to, lightening the burden on related parties, and improving the safety of the food distribution system. In this event, the latter measures may improve food securities, particularly in relation to point (3), it is important to take into consideration vulnerable parties, as represented by traditional Japanse sweets manufacturers, that are on the periphery of food supply systems. It has been found that those with a lack of differentiation of manufacturing and sales, who use a wide variety and low volume of food materials, carry out business on a local scale, and who have a small scale business, get damaged the most.

Key words: food security, food supply system, the Mikasa Foods scandal, tainted rice, Japanese sweets manufactures, food network theory

The Background of Maintaining Terraced Paddy Fields in Mountain Villages: A Case Study of Ohnishi District, Nakajyo Village, Nagano Prefecture

YOSHIDA Kunimitsu
Center of Policy Studies, Kumamoto University

Since the 1990s, the number of conservation activities directed at terrace paddy fields has increased at the national level, but these activities are unevenly distributed. Until now, no conservation activities have been carried out in one part of Tanada hyakusen, one of the most remarkable terrace paddy field projects in Japan. This paper aims to explain the background of maintaining terrace paddy fields in areas where conservation activities are standings. The changing multiple livelihoods of farmers and the current status of terrace paddy fields’ ownership programs were systematically analyzed.
The area chosen for study is Ohnishi district in Nakajyo village, Nagano prefecture. This area is located in the mountains where Tanada―hyakusen project was implemented. Many houses have been built on the gentle slope. The steep slope is used for upland agriculture, while the gentle slope along the mountain streams and valleys is used for terrace paddy fields.
The ongoing subsistence agriculture and small―scale production of rice farming on terraces was observed. Upland farming was characterized as commercial agriculture, which had declined after the 1960s, and many farmers, particularly man obtained non―agricultural jobs. As a result, upland farming was not able to keep up with the mechanizations of agriculture. On the other hand, the economic role of rice farming has been unsatisfactory as a result of which rice farming was not considered to be a productive occupation. In addition, rice farming has adjusted to the mechanizations of agriculture, and these factors have enabled to cultivation with a few labors. As a result, the rice farming has been continued through unpaid female labor.
These factors contributed to the continuation of cultivation on terrace paddy fields. There has been a steady annual increase in the conservation for terrace paddy fields; in contrast, study area’s conservation activities have declined. As a result, part of the paddy field in Ohnishi district is lying uncultivated, and the ridges are covered with overgrown weed. Furthermore, the preservation activities undertaken for the terrace paddy fields of Ohnishi differed from the preservation activities undertaken at the national level.

Key words: mountain village, terraced paddy fields, multiple livelihoods, subsistence agriculture, non―agricultural employment, Nakajyo Village Nagano Prefecture