Saturday, March 17, 2007

The california rolls are safe

After announcing plans to institute a certification system for Japanese restaurants overseas back in November, Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, headed by the beleaguered Matsuoka Toshikatsu (the subject of this superb book -- more on this soon), has decided to abandon these plans after opposition from citizens' groups and after a panel chaired by Ogura Kazuo of the Japan Foundation concluded that it is difficult to determine what exactly Japanese cuisine is.

So ends a bizarre attempt by Japan to flex its muscles in the cultural arena. Given that Japan remains a perennial favorite in this annual BBC survey, it's probably best not to give foreigners another reason to dislike Japan in light of the comfort women issue, which appears to be going from bad to worse, with the Abe Cabinet once again denying evidence of coercion, prompting US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer to criticize the government's position.

As I've said before regarding soft power: difficult to measure, difficult to wield, and highly sensitive to the slightest change in perceptions. Between the ongoing disputes over whaling and the comfort women issue, I wouldn't be surprised if the BBC finds Japan to be slightly less popular next year.

1 comment:

wisconsin_avenue said...

But have you read this report on war time prostitution documented by a U.S. Army officier?

Report No. 49: Japanese POW Interrogation on Prostitution.