Seeds for Whom the Seeds Will Feed" Masahiko Yamada, Former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Masaki Haramura, Film Director "Hokuryu-cho" visit & Documentary film production, Kuro Sengoku Business Cooperative on location for interviews

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Mr. Masahiko Yamada (former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, lawyer, and advisor to the Japanese Seed Protection Society) and Masaki Haramura, film director, were on location in Hokuryu Town on Sunday, June 21 and Monday, June 22 to cover a documentary film production. The film production is a documentary film on "Seeds and Food Safety.

Mr. Yamada and Director Haramura arrived in Hokkaido on Friday, June 19, and visited "Jibeef," a completely free-range beef producer in Samani Town, "Toma Green Life," a large-scale organic farmer in Toma Town, and others. On the following day, June 22 (Mon.), they will visit a field of Kuro Sengoku soybeans in the early morning.

Table of Contents

About the Seeds and Seed Act

Seed Act

The Seed Law (Major Agricultural Seeds Law) is a Japanese law (Law No. 131) enacted on May 1, 1952. The purpose of this law is to control the production of seeds of major agricultural crops (rice, soybeans, wheat, etc.) and other crops by the government, and to conduct field inspections and other measures.

Abolition of the Seed Act

On April 1, 2018, the Seed Law will be repealed. The uniform form of national government guidance to prefectures will be abolished, and authority over encouraged varieties will be delegated to each local government, including municipalities. The decision to repeal the law was made under the rationale of strengthening the competitiveness of agriculture through private sector participation.

The production of seeds, which are the common property of the region, is to be entrusted to the private sector. As a result, there are concerns about price hikes due to seed monopolies by multinational corporations and others, as well as the domination of the Japanese seed market by private corporations.

Seeds and Seedlings Act

The Seeds and Seedlings Law, promulgated on May 29, 1998, is a Japanese law that provides for the protection of rights to the creation of new varieties of plants. It stipulates that a person who has created a new variety of plant may possess the right to breed a new variety of plant by registering the new variety.

Proposed Amendments to the Seeds and Seed Act: Two Main Points

1. restrict overseas flow of seeds and cultivation outside specific regions
2. to license the self-propagation of registered varieties.

Note that only registered varieties can be self-propagated under the licensing system. Native varieties, common varieties, and varieties that have not been registered do not require a license application, and self-propagation is not restricted.
(Reference information:Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries website, regarding the proposed law to partially revise the Seeds and Seed Act.)

Proposed amendment to the Seeds and Seed Act expected to be postponed (The Japan Agricultural News, May 21, 2020)

It is expected that the proposed amendment to the Seeds and Seedlings Law will not be enacted in the current Diet session.
(Reference information:Japan Agricultural News, Seeds and Seedlings Law Revision to be Delayed; Farmers' Interests Come First in Verification)

informal get-together

On the evening of Sunday, June 21, at Sunflower Park Hokuryu Onsen, Mr. Yamada, Director Haramura, and other related parties held a meeting with Mayor Yutaka Sano, JA Kitasorachi Hokuryu Branch Office Director, Kuro Sengoku Business Cooperative Directors, and other Hokuryu Town officials.

山田正彦 氏(元 農林水産大臣)、原村政樹 映画監督を囲む懇談会
Roundtable meeting with Mr. Masahiko Yamada (former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) and Masaki Haramura, film director

Roundtable Discussions

Mr. Yamada and Mr. Haramura together

Mr. Masahiko Yamada (Former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Advisor to the Seed Protection Society of Japan, Lawyer), Mr. Masaki Haramura (Documentary film director), Ms. Namie Endo (Yamada's secretary), Mr. Mamoru Segawa (President of Toma Green Life, an agricultural production corporation), Mr. Masayuki Nagasaka (organic farmer), Ms. Yoshimi Takashima (community Communicator)


Mr. Masahiko Yamada (Former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Advisor to the Japanese Seed Protection Society, Attorney at Law)

山田正彦 氏
Mr. Masahiko Yamada

Mr. Masaki Haramura (Documentary Film Director)

原村政樹 氏
Mr. Masaki Haramura

Ms. Namie Endo (Mr. Yamada's secretary)

遠藤菜美恵 氏
Ms. Nami Endo

Mr. Mamoru Segawa (President, Toma Green Life Co., Ltd., an agricultural production corporation)

瀬川守 氏
Mr. Mamoru Segawa

Mr. Masayuki Nagasaka (Organic Farmer)

長坂正幸 氏
Mr. Masayuki Nagasaka

Ms. Yoshimi Takashima (Community Communicator)

Ms. Yoshimi Takashima

Attendees from Hokuryu Town

The members were Mayor Yutaka Sano, Hokuryu Town Council Member Keiko Ozaki, JA Kitasorachi Branch Manager Tadao Hoshino, Kurosekishi Cooperative Association President Yukio Takada, Kurosekishi Cooperative Association Senior Managing Director Masaaki Tsuji, Kurosekishi Cooperative Association Director Kazuo Kimura, former JA Kitasorachi Representative Director Ryoji Kikura, and Hokuryu Town Community Support Members Noboru and Ikuko Terauchi. All are members of the Hokkaido Tane no Kai (Chairman: Tokuji Hisada).

Mayor Sano and all concerned

General Moderator: Mr. Ryoji Kikura

Mr. Ryoji Kikura

Message from Mayor Yutaka Sano

佐野豊 町長
Yutaka Sano Mayor

Director Haramura said that he is from Chiba Prefecture, but Hokuryu Town was settled in 1893 by a pioneer immigrant group from Honno Village (now Inzai City), Chiba Prefecture. This year marks the 128th anniversary.

As of June 1, 2020, the population was 1,778, making it one of the smallest towns in Hokkaido. The population peaked in 1960 at 6,317. It is a depopulated town that has lost less than two-thirds of its population in about 60 years. The population is still declining, but the trend has been slowing down recently. As in any town, the problem of declining population is a major issue.

This year, the Sunflower Festival was cancelled due to the Corona. Although there will be no sunflowers blooming in the Sunflower Village, we will be preparing the soil for the Sunflower Village. We will plant and plow oats, then scatter and plow oats again, and then plant fall wheat. Next year, we will continue to build up the soil by adding compost after the snow melts.

So far, in 34 years, Sunflower Village has never been fallowed. This year, we will turn a pinch into an opportunity and focus on sunflower soil preparation so that good sunflowers will bloom in the next 10 to 20 years.

Hokuryu Town is a town of agriculture and sunflowers. In 1990, about 30 years have passed since the town made the declaration of "a town of food production to protect the lives and health of the people" led by the association's head, Mr. Hajime Kikura. We are engaged in agriculture by growing rice under the declaration to deliver such safe and delicious food to consumers.

In March, 2017, the Hokuryu Sunflower Production Association was awarded the "Japan Agricultural Award Grand Prize". At that time, the award ceremony was held at the Shibuya NHK Hall, where Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Yuji Yamamoto and NHK Chairman Ryoichi Ueda presented the award certificate.

In November 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) selected Kuro Sengoku Soybeans as an excellent example of the "5th Discover the Treasures of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Villages," and we received the award at the Prime Minister's official residence. At that time, Mr. Takamori Yoshikawa was the former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and today, I am grateful for the presence of Mr. Masahiko Yamada, former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and thankful for the opportunity to meet him.

I would like to have a brief discussion with you this evening. I look forward to your kind attention," said Mayor Sano.

Greetings from Mr. Masahiko Yamada

Mr. Masahiko Yamada

Mr. Masahiko Yamada

Born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1942. Lawyer. Graduated from Waseda University School of Law. After passing the bar exam, established a ranch in his hometown of Goto. After ending his ranching business due to the oil crisis, he devoted himself to becoming a lawyer. He then ran for the House of Representatives and became Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in June 2010 (Heisei 22). He subsequently served five terms in the House of Representatives.
In addition to his practice as a lawyer, he is currently working on issues such as the TPP and the abolition of the Seed Law, giving lectures and holding study groups in various locations.

About the Seeds and Seedlings Act

I arrived in Hokkaido on Friday, June 19, and visited a ranch in the town of Samani-cho where they raise wild beef from pasture. It was a wonderful place, and I realized that this is the way a true ranch should be, and that it is only in Hokkaido that it can be realized.

In fact, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries issued a "Grazing Prohibition (Cattle, Sheep, and Pigs) Policy. However, unusually, this "Grazing Prohibition Text" was removed on Friday, June 12.

Mr. Yamada speaks politely

Revision of the Seeds and Seedlings Law: Prohibition of homegrown seeds is the real deal.

First, I would like to talk about the "Revision of the Seed and Seedling Law. The law will abolish the law that allows the national government to control soybeans, rice, and wheat, which are the staple foods of Japan, and the prefectural government to develop superior varieties and provide them to farmers in a stable manner.

At that time, the government said, 'As a municipality and as a country, the public role, so to speak, is over. From now on, we are going to utilize the private sector and have private companies do all the seed management.

In fact, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) encourages "Mitsuhikari" developed by Mitsui Chemicals Agro Corporation as a privately developed variety of paddy rice. Mitsuhikari is an F1 variety (hybrid variety) and is 10 times more expensive than Koshihikari. He stated that the future was the era of F1 varieties.

At the same time, the "Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Support Law (Law No. 35 of 2009)" was passed. The law was passed to promote the provision to the private sector of superior breeding knowledge developed by the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and superior breeding knowledge from each prefecture. These were not reported.

Hokkaido also issued a notice that the Hokkaido government may continue to produce seeds and provide them to farmers, but in the meantime, it should provide all of its excellent findings to the private sector. The Japanese rice variety "Yumepirika" was transferred to Japan Monsanto Company, Ltd. and the variety "Tone-no-Megumi" was developed and has been on the market for 10 years.

The main objective was to abolish the previous public seed law first, transfer the best findings of each prefecture to private companies and large corporations, and then proceed to "ban home-grown seeds".

About meeting with Director Haramura

Masaki Haramura, Director, commissioned to make a film about "Seeds and Seedlings".

Two years ago, I met with Director Haramura. Seeds and seedlings are life for farmers. The information about the "ban on homegrown seeds" is not reported at all by the mass media. So, I asked Director Haramura if he would make a film about "seeds and seedlings" in order to let as many people as possible know about the "Seed Law Revision.

In Hokkaido, Mr. Tokuji Hisada (Chairman of Hokkaido Seed Association, visiting professor at Hokkaido University, and former editorial board member of the Hokkaido Shimbun) and Mr. Ryoji Kikura have been working hard for the "Hokkaido Seed Association". I have known Mr. Kikura since 10 years ago when he launched the "Food and Agriculture Revitalization Council" and became its executive director.

We are in contact with all of you and working on discussions about the seed law. During the filming of this movie, we visited Mamoru Segawa's Toma Green Life, where he collects his own rice, and Kazuhisa Ito's Firefly Farm in Tokachi, where he collects his own wheat and soybeans.

We are very fortunate to have encountered Kuro Sengoku soybeans, a superior black soybean variety recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

As local communities change, so does the nation.

Following the repeal of the Seeds and Seed Act, 19 prefectures have now enacted and enforced their respective seed ordinances. In addition, 27 governors have announced, and there is a widespread movement to protect each prefecture's own seeds. If this trend continues, we will have support in 32 prefectures.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries was initially opposed to the seed ordinance, but has recently changed its mind, welcoming it. In the Diet, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has responded to a bill proposed by the opposition party to revive the seed law.

With the TPP agreement, the domination of seeds and agriculture by multinational corporations has begun. I am convinced that we will be able to protect Japan's agricultural policy if we resist the TPP from the local level. I would like to fight together with all of you. I look forward to working with you.

I look forward to showing you the plots of Kuro Sengoku soybeans tomorrow. Thank you very much for your time today," said Mr. Yamada politely.

Thank you for meeting all of you!

Masaki Haramura Director's Story

原村政樹 監督
Director Masaki Haramura

Masaki Haramura Director

Born in Chiba Prefecture in 1957. After graduating from Sophia University, he worked as a freelance assistant director on documentary films and television productions before joining Sakura Eigasha in 1985. Major works to date include "Ama no Ryansan" (2004), "Inochi wo Kosuru Hitobito" (2006), "Satoyama Kids" (2008), NHK ETV Special "Rice Farmers Confronting the Nuclear Accident" (2011), NHK E-television "What Have the Japanese Aimed for? Aiming to be the best rice farmer in Japan", BS Premium's "Shin Nihon Fudoki (2014)", and the documentary film "Musashino (2018)", among others.

On the appeal of agricultural documentaries

I am making a documentary film based on agriculture. I know only part of what I know about agriculture, but I have been filming various villages for many years, since I was a teenager. I am proud to say that I have a slight understanding of the farmers because I have been in contact with their feelings.

People need "water, air, and food

The reason why we have been engaged in agriculture is because we need "water, air, and food" to survive.

Ever since the high-growth period when I was growing up, I have always felt that "Japan is cold toward agriculture. And when I was filming in the villages, I wondered why the farmers and the city dwellers looked at the world differently and did not understand each other in their conversations.

Highly spiritual farmers

In my many years of association with people who are seriously involved in agriculture, I have encountered many people with a high level of spirituality.

In the course of our interviews, we have realized that the words spoken by these people are very meaningful. For example, there are many people with the intellect to become scholars even though they only attended junior high school. Some are like poets, others like philosophers, and they speak with great sophistication.

I feel happy and comfortable meeting these wonderful people. It is fun and exciting to interview them. Again, I am impressed by the encounters with people who have such a wonderful way of thinking and doing their jobs.

We continue to make films with the hope of conveying the wonderful and wonderful aspects of these farmers to as many people as possible.

With a smile!

Film on "Seeds and Food Safety"

The theme of this film is "Seeds and Food Safety". The more I learn about food safety, the more I am convinced of the importance of agriculture as the basic food for Japanese people to live. I started filming around February of last year, and the more I did, the deeper I got into it.

Dr. Yamada's unwavering will, spirit, and humane heart

I first met Dr. Yamada when I was a member of the jury at an awards ceremony for a journalist show. After that, I had a chance to interact with Dr. Yamada and was asked to produce a film.

I have been working in a community-based approach for many years, spending at least one year, almost two to three years, and in the longest case, about 20 years, to cover a single village. Therefore, I was not sure if I would be able to make a film related to the Seed Law, because it was a different kind of film, focusing on political and social issues, which is a high level and a very difficult challenge to tackle.

However, as I listened to and studied Dr. Yamada's talk, I was drawn in and realized that this is a very big issue in agriculture.

Dr. Yamada has a wealth of knowledge and much to teach us, and he has strong unshakable beliefs. I have filmed many agricultural films, and one thing I have always felt is the "unshakable will and spirit" of the farmers. I like this kind of "unshakable spirit," partly because I myself cannot have an unshakable spirit.

Even during this photo shoot, I have noticed that Dr. Yamada exudes an aura of humanity in the back view of the farmers as he leaned in close to their hearts and listened to their stories carefully. I am impressed by the kindness of Dr. Yamada's heart, as he gently approaches the hearts of those who are hurting and suffering, and accepts them as his own.

Although this film tends to focus on the problems and difficulties of society, we also want to capture the human side of Dr. Yamada and the scenes in which he is involved. In Dr. Yamada's humanity, I sense a humanistic spirit in his attitude of standing firm with conviction against difficult situations, and his ability to take a firm human stance in areas where he can empathize.

Film on "Seeds and Food Safety"

I want to express conflicting ideas.

In the discussion of the Seed Act and pesticides, there are two extremes of ideas and opinions. Rather than one-sidedly bombarding one side with one opinion, I would like to make a film that makes people think that they might want to listen to someone like this, even if they have different opinions.

Managed by a multinational company

Among the various opinions on the Seed and Seedling Law, behind the scenes there are issues such as the enclosure of seeds by large corporations in the context of globalization. The existence of these masterminds is not well known and is not often covered by the mass media. Even among farmers, I feel that there are many who are unaware of this mastermind.

By bringing this largely hidden area to the surface, we hope to make a film that will enable people with different opinions to mutually understand and pursue the essence of each other's work, as well as make more people aware of the reality of the situation.

It is a rather difficult task, but I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of this issue during my visit to Hokkaido.

Importance of interactive dialogue

I believe that neither is right and neither is wrong, that there are good and bad points on both sides, and that there is no such thing as 100% correct. I hope that we can meet each other, talk to each other, and engage in mutual dialogue, rather than continuing to disagree because of differences in ideas.

I want to photograph and convey the beauty of Japanese agriculture.

The farmers we meet are very charming people. They are persuasive in both word and deed.

Most urban people do not know or understand the concrete reality of rural areas, agriculture, and farmers. I feel that it is really important for us to have a feeling of "Thank you! I feel that it is very important for us to have a feeling of "Thank you!

The landscape is not entirely created by nature, but is in many ways the result of the efforts of farmers. I strongly want to convey the reality of these farmers. As long as my legs and feet are strong enough, I will continue to walk around Japanese farming villages and convey the beauty of Japanese agriculture.

Conversation was lively!

Mamoru Segawa's Story

Mr. Mamoru Segawa

Mr. Mamoru Segawa

The creator of "Densuke Watermelon" in Touma Town, he has been practicing organic farming in more than 100 towns and established Touma Green Life Research Association in 1990. In 1990, he established the Toma Green Life Research Association, which produces specially cultivated rice, and in 1998, he incorporated it as an agricultural production corporation (Toma Green Life Co., Ltd.) and is still actively engaged in organic farming.

The first order of business came from Tokuji Hisada, chairman of the Hokkaido Seed Association, who said, "Introduce us to the farmers who are picking seeds.

Toma Green Life Agricultural Production Corporation (Toma Town)

Our corporation has been practicing organic farming for 10 hectares of rice paddies, vegetables, field crops, and horticulture, and we have not used any chemical fertilizers in our 117 hectares of fields for 10 years.

God's voice: "Change the world.

Today, with the advancement of networking, we live in a world where one can keep abreast of the global situation and obtain clear information about the current situation in Japan on a daily basis. Despite this, some of you may be wondering why the situation in Japan has not changed much.

However, with the current problems with pesticides and seeds, I feel that we are now in a period of great change, and that God must be saying, "It's about time for a change in the world.

All kinds of information about them are posted on the Internet. One of the reasons for this is the data that the amount of pesticides and the numbers of developmental disorders in children are in excellent proportion. When I saw this data, I felt that we, as farmers, as one of the producers of agricultural products, must change the way we have been farming.

I do not mean to sound hyperbolic, but I even think that unless we change the way we have been farming, we will become disease-creating criminals. I feel once again that farmers must be that much more aware of the importance of farming as a way of "making things.

Food that connects life

I believe that farmers now have a great opportunity to change their minds by sincerely accepting the idea that "food is the most important thing to sustain life. I am keenly aware that it is time for local farmers to raise their voices in order to change agriculture in Japan. I look forward to your continued support," said Mamoru Segawa, a practicing organic farmer.

Food for Life!

exchange of opinions

Mr. Yamada and Director Haramura led a discussion with the participants.

President Takata's Story

Mr. Kazuo Kimura's Story

(cultural) exchange meeting

The party moved to a different venue. Amidst the hearty dishes prepared by Sunflower Park Hokuryu Onsen, drinks were shared and the exchange was deepened in a congenial atmosphere.

With thanks for the wonderful opportunity!

The next day, on location at the Kuro Sengoku soybean field.

The next morning, a conversational video recording was made with Mr. Yamada and members of the Kuro Sengoku Business Cooperative in a field of Kuro Sengoku soybeans.

Mr. Yamada was very open and receptive to the candid words of the producers.

At the Kuro Sengoku soybean field!
Close to the heart of the producer.

The Japanese agriculture is changing through the recognition of various problems hidden in the "Seeds and Seedlings Law" and the unknown world.

I am impressed by your ability to move forward carefully and carefully, step by step, to shed light on the changing agriculture, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the wonderful relationship I have had with you all. Thank you very much!

We express our infinite love, gratitude, and prayers to the great souls of the farmers who protect the seeds that nourish our lives and nurture the food that sustains us.

With heartfelt gratitude to the earth that nurtures life.

Postscript: "Whose Seeds are Seeds" official website opens! Started accepting applications for independent screenings (Ippodo Fuji)

For more information, please visit the website of General Incorporated Association Bindo-Fuji (President: Masahiko Yamada) >>

Whose Seeds Are Seeds?

More Photos

interpoint (interword separation)Masahiko Yamada, former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Masaki Haramura, film director, visit to "Hokuryu Town" (122 photos) >>

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