Food pedagogies in Japan: From the implementation of the Basic Law on Food Education to Fukushima

Author/s: Cornelia Reiher

Edition: Volume 52, Number 3, November 2012

Summary: Japan’s Basic Law on Food Education (Shokuiku kihonhō) was enacted in June 2005 as a response to various concerns related to food and nutrition, such as food scandals, an increase in obesity and lifestyle-related diseases and an assumed loss of traditional food culture. The Law defines food education (shokuiku) rather vaguely as the acquisition of knowledge about food and the ability to make appropriate food choices. In this paper, my focus is the impact of shokuiku on discourses about food safety in relation to the nuclear disaster. I will address the following problems: Firstly, the assumption that ‘domestic food products are the safest in the world’; secondly, the power relations between municipal authorities, producers and consumers in Japan; and thirdly, the question of whether food pedagogies can adequately address food safety concerns after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I argue that, although the Basic Law offers a holistic approach to food in theory,with its focus on nutrition and the emphasis on domestic food, food pedagogies, practiced according to the Basic Law cannot adequately deal with the food safety problems that Japanese consumers face after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Because of the ignorance regarding food safety issues from official sides, Japanese consumers are left with a lack of awareness for these issues. Therefore, stakeholders who are not included in the state’s shokuiku campaign, such as consumer co-ops and Civil Radioactivity Measurement Stations try to provide knowledge about food to enable Japanese consumers to make appropriate food choices.

Keywords: food choices, food safety, Fukushima, food pegagogy, Basic Law on Food Education

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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 52_3. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.

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