March 10, 2007


First White Paper on Food Education Highlights Dietary Imbalance in Japan

Keywords: Education Food Government 

On November 25, 2006, the First White Paper on Food Education based on the Fundamental Law of Food Education enacted in June 2006 was endorsed by the Japanese Cabinet. The paper aims to discuss the current situation of dietary life and progress in food education in Japan. The 2006 paper provides background information on the promotion of food education, the enactment of the Fundamental Law of Food Education and the formulation of the Basic Plan to Promote Food Education.

The paper reveals that changes from the traditional rice-based Japanese diet are leading to an increase in lifestyle-related diseases, such as diabetes. The report points out that unhealthy eating habits are increasing, for example, people who do not have breakfast accounted for 29.9 percent of men in their twenties in 2003 and 19.9 percent of junior high pupils in 2000. In addition, the report indicates that those who have the necessary knowledge and skills to select proper food and to prepare meals have decreased to about 30 percent of men and 50 percent of women.

About 58 percent of food waste is generated from households and the food loss rate of households is 4.1 percent in Japan. These facts suggest that Japanese people are losing their traditional attitude of "mottainai", which means "waste not, want not". The paper also argues that Japan should improve its food self-sufficiency ratio, currently standing at about 40 percent, which is the lowest among developed countries.

It also introduces the efforts of the JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives) Akita Yamamoto in northern Japan to pursue food education in an effort to promote the consumption of locally-produced food. The group supplies foodstuffs for school lunches and provides school children with the chance to experience farming. On lunch days when whole dishes are made from local products, the farmers have lunch with the schoolchildren. The group's Grandma Sisters, which consists of good housewife cooks, provide recipes for meals made from local products, teach cooking classes on demand, and devise menus for boxed lunches and New Year's cuisine. They also cooperate with local sightseeing services to promote consumption of locally produced food.

Posted: 2007/03/10 11:45:15 AM
Japanese version