The object of this chapter is to extract and describe some of the common features of agriculture in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. These features include, on the one hand, elements of the basic environmental, economic and institutional structures conditioning agricultural production and farm household organisation and, on the other, aspects of the experience of agriculture’s role in the economy as development took place. These common features represent the background against which the individual agricultural sectors described in the case studies played their parts in the industrialisation processes of their countries. However, to the extent that they are common to the three complete examples of East Asian industrialisation within economies that have significant agricultural sectors, they also represent elements in any general analysis of agriculture’s role in the East Asian development model.
The existence of these common features does not of course imply that the development experience of Japan, Korea and Taiwan, as regards agri-culture’s part in it as much as industry’s, does not differ in many respects as a result of the variations in their histories and cultural traditions and in their contemporary political structures and international relations. As subsequent chapters will show, in many of the details of their agricultural organisation and of the responses of farmers and policy-makers to agriculture’s changing place in the economy, there are significant and interesting differences between the three countries. But in the context of, on the one hand, the agricultural development experience of much of the contemporary Third World and, on the other, of the pattern of agricultural adjustment pursued in the earlier-industrialising West, the common features of agriculture in the three countries which have so far successfully completed the process of ‘East Asian industrialisation’ do stand out and it is these which will be analysed below.