Japan is set to launch the agricultural income insurance in October 2018 and in order to gain a deeper insight on the system planning and policy concept, the Council of Agriculture (COA) organized the Japan's Agricultural Income Insurance Keynote Speech and Seminar jointly with Taiwan Research Institute on October 23. The organizers invited University of Tokyo agricultural economics Professor Nakashima Yasuhiro and Agricultural Mutual Relief Association (AMRA) executive director Suzuki Nao to share their valuable experiences on the aforementioned issue. Professor Nakashima currently serves as the chairman of Council of Food, Agriculture and Rural Area Policies under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, while Mr. Suzuki is involved in the revision of agricultural disaster compensation act as well as the promotion of agricultural mutual aid or income insurance, and is a key figure in the making of Japan's agricultural insurance policy. The seminar successfully attracted around 60 representatives from the industry, government and academic sectors.
The Japanese specialists delivered keynote speeches on "Japan's agricultural policy and income insurance reform and perspective" and "introduction to Japan's agricultural income insurance system". In the past, Japan's agricultural policy mainly relied on both the price support and the agricultural loss insurance to stabilize farmers' income. Nevertheless, in response to the pressure coming from WTO on reduction of domestic subsidies and the impact brought by trade liberation, the Japanese government initiated a series of agricultural policy reform and began planning the promotion of agricultural income insurance from 2014 in order to secure the overall income of agricultural households. The COA stated that such insurance in Japan was designed to provide insurance compensation for income loss caused by price decline of agricultural products in the domestic market. The range of coverage extends to all agricultural businesses which in turn ensured that farmers received 90% of their 5-year average income. Behind all this serving as the most important foundation for the system is Japanese farmers' tax information
The COA pointed out that agricultural insurance had a late start in Taiwan and is still in trial stage. In 2017, the sugar-apple income insurance debuted for trial run in Taitung area which was classified as a monoculture income insurance. This was different from the overall agricultural household income insurance implemented in Japan because Taiwanese farmers are exempt from individual income tax and therefore the system must rely on other objective statistical data for relevant calculations. Even though various countries’ experiences were taken into consideration when designing the system, it would be adjusted in accordance with local need.
The COA stated that agricultural income insurance is one of the most important items in agricultural policy in Taiwan and would continue to be promoted in the future. The experience shared by the Japanese scholar and AMRA expert on planning agricultural income insurance, would surely offer a much deeper understanding on the content and formation of the policy to the industrial, governmental and academic sectors. Thus, they may offer more professional suggestions to the promotion of agricultural income insurance in Taiwan in the future.