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Japan has taken a lot of criticism...

From Times Staff and Wire Services

Japan has taken a lot of criticism for its policy banning rice imports, but an Agriculture Department report says Tokyo’s wheat policies aren’t anything to brag about, either.

The report, included in a recent grain review by the department’s Foreign Agricultural Service, said Japan’s wheat imports have declined from a peak in 1975, despite continued growth in population.

“This is partially the result of increased local production as farmers responded to wheat production subsidies initiated in 1974 and doubled in 1977, and the availability of land diverted from rice production,” the report said.

That dramatically increased Japan’s wheat area and boosted production fivefold. Moreover, the big subsidies were paid for mostly by profits from sales of imported wheat to local flour millers at fixed prices well in excess of world prices, the report added.

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