Roles for the Japanese and American Rice Negotiations


Kazuhito, Yamashita Senior Fellow, The Tokyo Foundation and Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (REITI) 

Negotiations between Japan and the United States on the sale of California Rice 

Background: Rice has been one of the major areas of Japanese protectionism from a U.S. perspective.  With the flood of Japanese imports during the 1980’s, the tension between the U.S. and Japan over “protectionism” of Japanese agriculture came intense.  The sale of California rice has once again come up for negotiation.  The WTO negotiations in Cancun “the rice” issue was a major obstacle in negotiations.  Although significant reforms are being proposed with respect to Japanese agriculture, rice farmers in particular continue to be a strong lobby against further access of foreign rice, especially from California, into its consumer markets.  

Negotiation: The two teams have been negotiating for over eight months to craft a rice deal for Japan to purchase California rice.  The team has met in person and by conference call over these eight months in Tokyo, Sacramento, and Washington D.C.  At the last face-to-face meeting in Tokyo, the team hammered out a deal in which the Japanese would purchase committed to meet the quotas established.  What remained to be negotiated was the actual access to the end Japanese consumer.  The California Rice is sold directly to the Japanese government through the Japan Food Department (JFD).  Although establishing a fairly good track of meeting the commitments to purchase California rice, Japan has been reluctant to put much of this rice into the Japanese market for consumers to purchase. The JFD withholds import rice stocks from their market and uses it primarily for re-export to meet Japan’s humanitarian efforts or used in their food processing industry.  At the last meeting, both parties agreed to establish minimum access commitments over the next 5 years.  At the present time, less than .5% of this rice reaches the Japanese consumers as retail banded products.  Both parties are anxious to wrap up the negotiations because the Prime Minister of Japan is due to visit the White House in 6 weeks.  Both the White House and Tokyo want the final agreement signed by the trade delegations from both countries at the White House. 


Please assume the role of Kazuhito, Yamashita senior fellow of the Tokyo Foundation and Research Institute of Economy and write your point of view and debate on the negotiation details listed above and support your role. Instructions for assignment below. Please write a 2 page research paper with your version of the negotation. 

Instructions: PLAY YOUR ASSIGNED ROLE. It is crucial that you research the position that your selected member of the negotiating team is likely to follow.  You will be asked to turn in your research as to the positions taken by role.  Your research will be a graded assignment (See Week 4, Part A).  There will be two levels of negotiation.  Round 1 will be conducted this week; it is the internal negotiation as each of the negotiation teams comes up with its strategy and terms; a script is produced to guide you through your negotiation conference call.  The script and actual negotiation session itself will be ungraded assignments (See Week 4, Part B and synchronous negotiation call).  Round 2 will be conducted in Week 5 as another synchronous conference call.  The call will take place for an hour.  At the end of the hour, feedback will be given by your professor.  

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