Japan's Food Control System was established in 1942 during World War II in order to cope with the shortage of food. The system has been maintained in order to secure a stable supply of rice, a staple food and key crop in the country. The functions and roles of this system change gradually according to fluctuations in the rice market. Since the establishment of the 'voluntary rice-marketing system' in 1969, Japan's marketed rice has been classified into the following three types: (1) Government-marketed rice (GM rice): the government purchases from rice growers and sells to wholesalers. (2) Voluntarily marketed rice (VM rice): rice assemblers' organizations sell directly to wholesalers. (3) Freely marketed rice (FM rice) which is an illegal practice. Recent trends have witnessed decreased sales of GM rice and increases in the sales of VM and FM rice, thus resulting in the weakening of government control of the rice supply. The goods markets for VM rice instituted in 1990 introduced to a greater degree the market mechanism of price controls for rice. At the same time, the government's control of rice distribution was relaxed to allow new access to rice dealers and to promote free trade between sellers and buyers. Although the Food Control System in Japan has changed significantly, it will be retained since it protects the rice supply and paddy field agricultural system.