Japan is the ninth largest producer of rice in the world. But the average rice field in the densly populated country is very small -- about 2 acres. For many farmers, rice cultivation is only a part-time occupation.
The number of Japanese farm households, farm population, as well as rice production has declined in recent decades.
Nevertheless, as part of the government control of the important staple, rice imports are banned (except for processed rice).
Even though its production is subsidized, Japanese rice remains significantly more expensive than that of other Asian countries.
But the rationale is that self-sufficiency in rice is important for food security.
The Japanese also feel rice cultivation is a very important element of their cultural heritage. They also believe rice Japonica to be superior in taste to other varieties.