«Summary Both Austria and Japan have a small-scaled agricultural structure and a high share of farms managed part-time. Family farming is the ...»
4.1 Traditional stem-family system in Japan Japan’s traditional family institution, the “Ie”, maintained and passed on material and spiritual family properties such as land and equipment. In modern Japan, the institution was modified as a sector dependent on the emperor and enhanced to a national ideology by the Meiji Civil Code in 1898 (KAWASHIMA, 1957). The Ie ideology, with its stem-family household structure, designated the eldest son as heir, expecting his family to live together with his parents. The successor was to assume headship and therefore the responsibility of caring for his aged parents, as his wife was expected to be a proper daughter-inlaw. According to national statistical data (Comprehensive Survey of the People in Health and Welfare), living in three-generation family households was common for the elderly until 1995. The traditional patri-linear stem-family system was dominant in Japanese society until Farm Succession Patterns in Austria and Japan recently. The complicated relationship between mother- and daughterin-law has been a classic topic of family studies (SATO, 2007).
4.2 Post-war agricultural policy and family farm succession After World War II, the current Civil Code abandoned the Ie institution. The inheritance system was changed from a solo-favouring to an even-favouring system. Therefore, the institutional background guaranteeing generational family-farm succession was abolished (MORIOKA et al., 1993). However, to avoid subdividing farmlands, the Agricultural Land Law was enacted in 1952 and transferring and converting the use of agricultural land was strictly controlled by the National Chamber of Agriculture. The Basic Law on Agriculture of 1961 contributed to the improvement of modernized independent farming families (SUGIOKA, 2007). Nevertheless, during the period of high economic growth from 1955 to 1973, the number of family farms decreased dramatically because of industrialization and urbanization.
From 1964 onwards, the Family Farming Agreement was a characteristic measure to keep young successors involved in family farms.
Although Family Agreements were father-son contracts seeking democratic family relationships and modernizing farm management, such contracts among family members did not suit the traditional farming family and fell from use, except in some rural communities (GOJO, 2003, 2f.; KAWATE, 2006, 19f.).
4.3 Gender equality and family farm succession Amid trends such as side-business farming, aging of farmers and feminizing of the agricultural sector, the Basic Law on Agriculture was revised in 1999. In the same year, the Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society also went into effect. These new policies have been adopted because of the feminizing of the agricultural sector since around 1990.
Indeed, the majority of agricultural labour has been provided by women. The ratio of females was 53.3% of the total population mainly engaged in farming in 2005 (Census of Agriculture and Forestry in Japan). In 1992, the “Goals for Rural Women in the 21st Century and Mid- to Long-term Vision for Achieving These Goals” was formulated.
Following this vision, in 1995 the Family Agreement was revived as the Family Management Agreement (FMA) (GOJO, 2003, 7; KAWATE, 2006, 86 Otomo and Oedl-Wieser 31). In 2007, 37,721 farm households (2.9% of the commercial farm households 1 ) had implemented such agreements. The FMA aims to improve the technical and management skills of farmers, as well as to achieve a partnership within farming families and to empower farming women under the gender-equal policy (NAKAMICHI, 2000). Each FMA is composed of several articles covering farm management and family life, such as ways of decision-making in farm management, working hours, remuneration for farm work, roles of farm work and housework for each family member, and parents’ post-retirement life (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan). In 2003, the Japanese government introduced a system of certifying farmers to receive subsidies. If farming women sign the FMA, they can become certified farmers along with their husbands (KAWATE, 2006, 32f.).
5. Comparison of Farm Succession in Austria and Japan Farm succession patterns in Austria and Japan were compared using the life course approach. One’s life course is a chain of events dependent on age and determined by when and what events one experiences. Each life stage has a characteristic developmental task.
This study compares farm successors’ developmental tasks for three consecutive life stages, i.e. (i) occupational selection and educational course, (ii) family formation, and (iii) inheritance and parents’ retirement (TSUTSUMI, 1999).
5.1 Occupational selection and educational course Austrian and Japanese educational systems differ, and therefore the timing of initial engagement in vocational training and occupational selection is also different. In Austria, farm successors choose their occupation according to their own interests, guided by their parents, in their early teens. Their main educational course is as follows: after four years of primary and four years of secondary education, they take vocational training for three to five years. Thus, they choose their A commercial farm household is defined as a farming household with cultivated land of at least 30 ares, or with annual sales of agricultural products of at least 500,000 yen (Census of Agriculture and Forestry in Japan).
Farm Succession Patterns in Austria and Japan occupation before 14 years of age. Parents place their hopes on a child interested in farming, regardless of sex or birth order. Emotional factors in occupational selection, such as interest, give females a chance to become successors. In many Austrian regions patriarchal succession patterns have changed, and daughters are increasingly designated farm successors.
A wine producer (born 1967) has three children, a 10 year-old son and daughters 8 and 7 years old. They hope the elder daughter will succeed because she is interested in the cellar and the kitchen of the family restaurant. [A10, February 2008] In Japan, however, students generally choose their occupation by themselves in their late teens. Following compulsory education for nine years, most go to upper secondary school, i.e. high school, and currently half enter college. Education received in agricultural high schools is insufficient for managing profitable farms at present. After graduating from high school, many farm successors go through vocational training at an agricultural college for two or four years or a farmer’s academy administered by the local government for two years.
In 1968 a national farmer’s academy was founded to provide special training for elite young farmers. In 38 years there have been only 36 females among the 1,238 graduates. Female successors usually have no brothers (J4, J13). Conventional factors play an initial role in the occupational selection of farm successors in Japan. However, the number of brotherless daughters is increasing because of the declining birth rate, making farm succession insecure.
5.2 Family formation In Japan, marriage is common and children usually are born between legally married parents. On the other hand, in Austria, children may often be born to an unmarried couple. The child of a single mother receives medical and social insurance from the government. It is not unusual that the order of life events is childbirth, marriage and cohabitation (A6, A8).
A wife (born 1969) is from a neighbouring town. While living with her parents, she gave birth to a daughter in 1995, got married in 1998, gave birth to a son in 1999, and began to live with her husband and his family in their current residence in 2000. She postponed co-habitation with her husband because she did not want to live with her in-laws. In 2000, the 88 Otomo and Oedl-Wieser residence was separated, the first floor for the son’s family and the second for the parents’ family. Shortly after that she began to engage in farming. [A8, January 2008] In Austria, although the husband’s parents live on the same farm, each couple lives independently. This new life style helps to relieve the strain in the mother- and daughter-in-law dyad.
In Japan, arranged marriages for farm successors were prevalent in the former generation, those aged 50 and over in 2005 (Japanese National Census). However, given the current preference for the Western ideal of a love match, male farm successors face difficulty in forming a family. Farm work and family life in a stem-family household discourage marriage to male successors. The two generations live more separately nowadays, but farm work needs to appear more glamorous to women than other jobs. Farm successor’s wives in many cases have been engaged in other industries before marriage and begin to engage in farming after raising children (J2, J7). Farming families executing FMA show farming to be a challenging career.
A farm manager’s wife advised her daughter-in-law to make and sell box lunches using organic vegetables she herself had cultivated. This new small business generated personal income. Now, the daughter-inlaw teaches in a local cooking school, and this has built her selfconfidence. [J2, February 2007]
5.3 Inheritance and parents’ retirement Because of the patriarchal Ie ideology, female farmland owners are exceptional in Japan. Although some daughters are engaged in family farming as successors, farmland is inherited by a man adopted as the daughter’s husband (J13). On the contrary, in Austria a female successor owns the farmland, and it is not unusual that husband’s and wife’s farms are combined through their marriage (A1, A2, A3, A4, A9). Co-ownership and co-management between husband and wife or parent and child are also common, giving greater opportunity for women to achieve status as farmland owners and farm managers.
A wife (born 1951), the second oldest of four sisters, inherited her parents’ vineyard. Her father died at 46, when she was 16 years old and already dating her current husband (b.1949). He was helping her family with farming and was also the successor of his family farm. The two were co-owners of their farm until the husband began receiving his Farm Succession Patterns in Austria and Japan pension in 2007. They have two daughters, and the eldest (b.1973) is involved in farming. Currently the wife and this daughter are coowners. [A1, January 2008] In Austria, the farmland is transferred to the successor by signing a farm transfer contract when the manager begins to receive a pension.
The Chambers of Agriculture, licensed tax accountants and notary publics advise transferring farmland rights from husband to wife and/or making the wife co-owner (A1, A8, A9).
However, in Japan, the landowner’s name is changed from the father’s directly to his eldest son’s after the father’s death. Therefore the widow has no chance of inheriting family properties, although widows inherit them in urban areas. Before the father’s death, only the right of farm management is transferred to the successor. In an aging society like Japan, generational change of stem-family household is slow. FMA can ensure the welfare of the elderly and expedite transfer of farm management rights to the younger generation2.
Furthermore the FMA is useful for adjusting role allocations among stem-family members, and this is helpful for women in establishing their personal position in family farming, although younger women still tend to be responsible for general household duties.
The document stated that overall farm labour and accounting are allotted to the eldest son’s wife and that while raising her children, she was required to pack vegetables on the premise. [J12, February 2007] The agreement provides that all family members cooperate in child care although the eldest son’s wife is the main person in charge. She will engage in farming again after her children enter a day nursery. [J1, September 2006] In Japan, farmers had a disadvantage in pension, even though public pensions were established in the 1950s. Thus, a voluntary Farmers’ Pension was established in 1970 (Law No.78 of 1970). However, because of the aging of society, the pension system changed in 2002 from pay-as-you-go financing to a personal type of defined contribution pension (Farmers’ Pension Fund of Japan).
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6. Conclusions In Austria, the patriarchal farm succession pattern is changing slowly.
Nowadays a major determinant of succession is interest in farming.