Good Points About Japan
Dlumb, thanks for your thoughts.
1. regarding population, the population is plummeting rapidly. MOST farmland is unused and you can get free use of farmland in return for a good plan to use it. The reason for 60% of vegetables from China (or elsewhere) is merely based on price. Actually all of mine are local and even in the big cities the fresh vegetables seem Japanese: but I notice that ALL peanuts are from China, wheat and soy is imported (this is more an important factor) banannas and apples from Americas and most all kiwi from NZ etc and most fish now comes from all over the world. I have heard that half of all US food is imported in recent years too, again because of price. I understand that only half of calories come from Japan farms (most of which seem to be fallow now) and when I ask young Japanese about this they just shrug and tell me that no problem, the population is dropping so fast, there is no food security problem in the future. I can attest that in the countryside you can definitely do locavore. I am impressed at how the land fertility (humus etc) is much better than it was in old times as you can easily see that on islands that had no good soil in the past have deep rich black soil that constantly receives composted seaweed etc inputs over hundreds of years. Basically there is so much abandoned farmland, 1. the country can quickly become self-sufficient if the price is right and 2. farming should (will I think) become lucrative again if things get bad.
2. regarding the government ineptitude. As you probably realize Japan is not a law based country like the US is and attitude and good faith go a long ways to getting what is needed, regardless of the written rules. I have many examples but do not want to put into a public writing. Overall, I have much more personal freedom in Japan. I am not talking about what clothes I wear but important things such as getting things done in housing and business relations without government regulations in your face. As long as you care about others, and try to honor their feelings, you have much freedom to do things without government avarice. Anyway, it is best NOT to rely on the government. I dont care if the government is inept (we are better off that way) if I dont need it and have nothing for them to tax. I dont expect the government to "save" me and recommend not relying on a central or state government for anything. Local communities handle their problems. This is a long heritage in Japan from the Samurai times, is relevant to your question, and is a main reason why it is acceptable and honorable to keep your mouth shut and not complain to outsiders and give them an opening to interfere with local affairs. I dont know about Tokyo and do not have an opinion about big cities, except to stay out of them except for business.
3. Climate change. Japan has ample rainfall and will get more rain from global warming. that is good. Most everywhere is surrounded by 10 feet or more of concrete sea wall.. that is good. If the oceans rise a meter (50-100 years from now?), I do not expect lost land, but there will be lots of panics during hurricanes, if the hurricane creates a surge during high tide. In my case I studied the history and the worst possible hurricane generated up to a meter of high water in some locations North of me. I am worried about this but not in my lifetime. Anyway, I can show you nice available farmland and houseland well above water but in view of the water if you visit me.
As you likely realize, the people like to speak English, but Americans are presumed lazy. If you are willing to get your hands dirty and build and work your own farm, you would be well accepted here, in my opinion. I do not see a good future for someone who might want to buy a farm (cant do anyway if you dont work itr) and pay others to work it, both economically or socially.