Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Foods Produced in Japan Lack Certification Required by the Olympic Games
TSUJI Yoshiki  / Chairman and Head of the Board of Directors, Tsuji Culinary Institute

October 26, 2017
We are now three years away from hosting the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. In retrospect, the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 was an event that bolstered Japan’s national prestige and led to the period of high economic growth.

That was when frozen food made its appearance at the Olympic Village, and the experience of being exposed to diverse culinary cultures from around the world had a positive impact on the culinary culture of postwar Japan. As one international event led to another, from the Olympics to the World Expo, the eating habits of the Japanese became westernized to a considerable degree.

Currently, there is one issue that is becoming a shared concern within Japan’s culinary circles with respect to the Olympic Games; if things remain the way they are, there will be an absolute shortage of Japanese food products to serve at the Olympic Village or at the stadiums .

According to rules introduced after the London Olympics in 2012, only foodstuffs with internationally recognized certification for environmental consideration and hygiene management will be allowed for use at the Games. However, Japan lags way behind in establishing its system of certification based on global standards.

By the end of the twentieth century, Europe had already created a certification system for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), which is well established by now. Sustainable agriculture is the goal of this system, and the requirements for certification are: preservation of the environment and biodiversity; proper control of pesticides and food hygiene; safe and comfortable working conditions; and consideration for animal welfare.

In Japan, where certifications of this kind have yet to be embraced, there is a tendency to view such requirements as unreasonably high hurdles being imposed by foreign countries.

However, Japan is faced with pressing issues that include low birth rates, an aging population, and the risk of losing regional communities that had sustained its food production. The Olympic Games should serve as an opportunity for us to embrace the spirit of global certifications and consider making our agriculture and fishery industries more sustainable. Japan must create an environment that facilitates obtaining international certifications, not from an economic standpoint of simply promoting exports, but from the standpoint of preserving the natural environment and ensuring safety and security for its people, as well as maintaining the health and pride of those who work in the agriculture and fishery industries.

Seeking certification involves cumbersome document management and associated costs, which would stretch the resources of the rapidly aging population of small-scale farmers. Instead of leaving the task of obtaining certification solely to the site of food production, we should recognize it as a national issue that is of concern to everyone.

It would require a proactive national effort, including sharing the costs, at each stage of distribution, processing and consumption. Sophisticated policies would also be essential.

To shoulder part of this effort, the TSUJI Culinary Institute formulated a manifesto for the food industry in March this year under the “Cool Japan Inter-Hub Collaboration Project ” sponsored by the Cabinet Office. The slogan, “Handing down the joy of eating to our descendants in the next century,” was reflected in the manifesto. To reconstruct the food system into one that exists in harmony with nature, we proposed creating an educational hub for food that integrates the humanities and sciences by developing partnerships among those involved in the production, distribution, processing and manufacturing of food as well as chefs, and consumers, government, educational institutions and the media.

We hope to continue our activities as an educational institution specializing in the domain of food by forging partnerships with related institutions, so that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics - a festival of human dreams – will be an opportunity to nurture a sense of responsibility in the various issues surrounding food among the younger generation.

Yoshiki Tsuji is Chairman and Head of the Board of Directors of Tsuji Culinary Institute. This article was originally published in the morning edition of the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper on April 4, 2017.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

辻芳樹 / 辻調理師専門学校校長

2017年 10月 26日










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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Foods Produced in Japan Lack Certification Required by the Olympic Games