Harvesting State Support: Institutional Change and Local Agency in Japanese Agriculture (2021)


New publication by Hanno Jentzsch

About the Book

Agriculture has been among the toughest political battlegrounds in postwar Japan and represents an ideal case study in institutional stability and change. Inefficient land use and a rapidly aging workforce have long been undermining the economic viability of the agricultural sector. Yet vested interests in the small-scale, part-time agricultural production structure have obstructed major reforms. Change has instead occurred in more subtle ways. Since the mid-1990s, a gradual reform process has dismantled some of the core pillars of the postwar agricultural support and protection regime. Harvesting State Support analyzes this process by shifting the analytical focus to the local level.

Drawing on extensive qualitative field research, Hanno Jentzsch investigates how local actors, including farmers, local governments, and local agricultural cooperatives, have translated abstract policies into local practice. Showing how local variants are constructed through recombining national reforms with the local informal institutional environment, Harvesting State Support reveals new links between agricultural reform and other shifts in Japan’s political economy.



"This meticulously researched book fills an important gap in our understanding of Japan’s agricultural support and protection regime by analyzing how local actors and agricultural institutions have influenced the nature of change in that regime. What it reveals is that the agricultural reform process in Japan is a complex story of top-down and bottom-up. Change is the product of interaction between nationally imposed policy reforms and the norms, practices, and community links of local actors, including farmers and agricultural cooperative organizations."

Aurelia George Mulgan,
professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences,
University of New South Wales, Canberra

"Working with the case of Japan’s agricultural policy, Hanno Jentzsch has written an important theoretical contribution about institutional change. Jentzsch carefully draws out a local theory of gradual institutional change, a novel contribution to scholarship. Besides being essential for anyone interested in Japan’s agricultural policy, this book is also strongly recommended to those interested in Japan’s politics or policy-making, or in the broader theories of institutions."

Robert J. Pekkanen,
professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies,
University of Washington


Jentzsch, Hanno
2021 Harvesting State Support: Institutional Change and Local Agency in Japanese Agriculture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Harvesting State Support