Japan starts phasing out rice subsidies as TPP looms

Japan has decided to phase out decadeslong policies meant to shield its rice farmers from global competition.

The nation is negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement with the United States and other Pacific Rim countries. The pact could likely boost industrial products but open up agriculture to competition for the first time. 

Rice farmers are bracing for the change by trying to market their grains as luxury items, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The move could be risky for the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and could fundamentally alter Japan's rural landscape.