Betting on the Farm: Institutional Change in Japanese Agriculture

April 29, 2022  |  3:00-4:30 PM
Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118

On Friday, April 29, the Asia Policy Program is cosponsoring the Center for East Asian Studies’ event “Betting on the Farm: Institutional Change in Japanese Agriculture,” a book talk with Patricia Maclachlan, Professor of Government and Asian Studies and the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA), a nationwide network of farm cooperatives, is under increasing pressure to expand farmer incomes by adapting coop strategies to changing market incentives. Some coops have adapted more successfully than others. In Betting on the Farm, Patricia L. Maclachlan and Kay Shimizu attribute these differences to three sets of local variables: resource endowments and product-specific market conditions, coop leadership, and the organization of farmer-members behind new coop strategies.

Using in-depth case studies and profiles of different types of farmers, Betting on the Farm also explores the evolution of the formal and informal institutional foundations of postwar agriculture; the electoral sources of JA’s influence; the interactive effects of economic liberalization and demographic pressures (an aging farm population and acute shortage of farm successors) on the propensity for change within the farm sector; and the diversification of Japan’s traditional farm households and the implications for farmer ties with JA.


Patricia L. Maclachlan, who arrived at UT in 1997, is Professor of Government and Asian Studies and the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Professor of Japanese Studies.  She received her Ph.D in political science and Japan studies in 1996 from Columbia University and spent one year as a research associate in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests include comparative political institutions and the politics and political economy of East Asia, with a focus on Japan. 

Dr. Maclachlan is the author of The People’s Post Office: The History and Politics of the Japanese Postal System: 1871-2010 (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2011) and Consumer Politics in Postwar Japan: The Institutional Boundaries of Citizen Advocacy (NY: Columbia University Press, 2002). She also co-edited (with Dr. Sheldon Garon) and contributed to The Ambivalent Consumer: Questioning Consumption in East Asia and the West (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), and has written several articles and book chapters on consumer-related issues in Japan and the West, Japanese civil society, Japanese postal politics, and agricultural reform.  She has a co-authored (with Dr. Kay Shimizu) book forthcoming from Cornell University Press on organizational and strategic change among Japanese agricultural cooperatives in the context of rural demographic and economic decline.

Dr. Maclachlan is a member of the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON), the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation, and the American Advisory Committee of the Japan Foundation.  She also serves on the board of trustees and the editorial board of the Journal of Japanese Studies.