Contemporary Japan 29, No. 1

Special issue “Food, Agriculture and Risk in Contemporary Japan”

Issue editor: Cornelia Reiher, Freie Universität Berlin and Tomiko Yamaguchi, International Christian University - Guest Editors

For decades, scholars, policy makers and mass media in Japan have been discussing concerns about the decline of Japan’s agriculture sector, the aging farming population, the country’s low food self-sufficiency ratio, and regular food scandals. Interdisciplinary scholarship on food in Japan has dealt with a great number of topics such as Japanese cuisine, local food cultures, or agricultural policies. More recently, the study of risks as they relate to food and agriculture has emerged as an important theme of social scientific inquiry, especially in the wake of the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. This special issue deals with the concept of risk as a key analytical tool with which to examine issues related to food and agriculture. We envision that the volume explores how concepts of risk are constructed, negotiated and translated into practices and policies with regard to agriculture and food in Japan. The special issue should also address the question of how risk can contribute to our understanding of Japan’s contemporary agri-food system. These aims evoke a number of further questions, such as: Who has to take risks in Japan’s agri-food system and what are these risks? Who governs risks and how? Who sees risks as threat? How is meaning negotiated among actors when interpretations differ, and what strategies do actors take in pushing their agendas forward? Thus, we would like to address relevant issues and concerns ranging from the interpretation of emerging risks to the variety of responses exhibited by different actors.

We invite papers focusing on but not limited to the following topics:

  • Food security and food safety policies
  • Risks as they relate to agricultural trade
  • Risks to farmers’ livelihoods, rural community, and the environment
  • Responses to food and agricultural risks, e.g. by civil society, food industry, producers’ and consumers’ cooperatives, and policy makers
  • Discourse on food and agricultural risks
  • Food risks as experienced by consumers, e.g. social inequality, and everyday practices for dealing with food risks

Contributions should not exceed 8000 words, including references and appendices. For details see our submission guidelines at

For inquiries and submission please contact: Cornelia Reiher ( and Tomiko Yamaguchi (

Submission deadline: 31 March 2016; Publication: Spring 2017