Coming from Japan, he is the gastronomic standard-bearer of a whole culture, of a whole country. If you are told “Japanese food”, you necessarily think first or second: Sushi. For decades, these delicious bites of vinegared rice covered with a delicate slice of fish have captured the hearts and taste buds of hundreds of millions of consumers around the world. And yet, last night, the most unexpected news that has fallen: the sale of sushi will be prohibited by law in Japan. Investigation.
Sashimi, nigiri and maki: the complex geopolitical issues of sushi
Yes, we don’t think about it often, but sushi is the heart of major geopolitical issues, which the general public is not always aware of. A first relatively well-known example: sushi with salmon. A delight that represents Japan so well, isn’t it? Well no, this is all a lie.
In fact, sushi is traditionally made exclusively from marine fish. The reason is simple: there are no or few parasites in marine fish, unlike freshwater fish. They are therefore safer to eat raw. However, salmon, in nature at least, goes up rivers to spawn (Editor’s note: precise term to speak of the laying and fertilization of fish eggs), and it is therefore not considered a marine fish. Traditionally, therefore… salmon sushi does not exist.
It is in fact a relatively new product, introduced by a long and powerful marketing campaign by the Norwegian lobby of salmon producers. Their production having reached proportions too large in relation to the demand, they decided to offer the salmon in the form of sushi. Their argument? It is delicious, and above all, farmed salmon does not go up rivers, and is raised exclusively at sea. It is therefore suitable for consumption in the form of sushi.
Another example of the unsuspected impacts of raw fish in international relations: Mr. Kiyoshi Kimura (木村 清), the boss of Sushi Zanmai, the largest sushi chain in Japan (you can see a video about it here), there a few years ago, did the unthinkable. Faced with rising prices and the scarcity of sea resources, he turned to the West African coasts which are still teeming with fish. The only problem: the pirates.
Admittedly, the latter do not fight with sabers or “gomu gomu” attacks à la One Piece after having eaten the fruits of the devil… But piracy is still a sad reality in certain seas, in particular off the Somali coast. Weight problem that prevents access to these marine treasures in all serenity. Mr. Kimura’s solution is as simple as it is daring: to hire the said Somali pirates so that instead of looting the ships, they fish for him.
And it was a phenomenal success: piracy fell in the region, the Sushi Zanmai chain gained access to cheaper fish, the local Somali economy improved… In short, a courageous bet that paid off.
But unfortunately, who says lobby, influence, politics, economy… Also says adversaries, opposition, and other lobbies. This is where the totally unknown and yet extremely influential lobby of the “New Japanese Pro-Animal Association” (全 日本 新 動物 派 協会) comes into play, chaired by Mr. Sakana Shigatsuno (四月 野 坂 菜), member of the most powerful sect (or, officially, “new religion”) in Japan: the Soka Gakkai (創 価 学会).
Against a background of political and ideological disagreement with supporters of Mr. Kimura, which has lasted for 20 years, Mr. Shigatsuno’s lobby has forged strong links with other lobbies, and has managed to attract the favor of many. influential members of the Japanese parliament. And while it has so far not made headlines, neither in Japan nor around the world, the NAJPA has been campaigning for nearly a decade for the outright destruction of the sushi market (among other things).
And today, this fight has taken a historic and decisive turn: the law to ban the production and sale of sushi in Japan has been passed. If it is true that the vote is narrowly passed, and that public opinion in turmoil is not ready to let such a cultural (and dare we say it, economic) catastrophe pass by, for the moment it seems that the landscape of Japanese gastronomy is about to change drastically from next year.
The end of an era, total misunderstanding: the Japanese in shock
As we mentioned, Japanese public opinion did not welcome the news (and understandably so). “Wild” demonstrations (Editor’s note: extremely rare in Japan), the hashtag #savemysushi which explodes on Line (a Korean equivalent of WhatsApp very widespread in Asian countries), celebrities crying out scandal, influencers diverting the news to make sushi eating contests …
…nothing works. As is often the case in Japan, public opinion is little heard, and surrounded by deputies in his boot, Mr. Shigatsuno declares in front of the cameras of all the national channels:
“This is a historic victory for our country and for the fight against animal cruelty (Editor’s note: reference to ikejime, a method of preparing fish considered – wrongly – by the NAJPA as cruel and immoral). It is time to move forward: how can a country like ours still, in the 21st century, think that a dish as ridiculous as sushi has its place as a representative of our gastronomy? I remind you that it’s just a piece of raw fish with possibly a little rice. It’s not food, it’s just a huge joke. “
And as if the bad news “And I am pleased to announce that our fight does not stop there: we will continue to fight with all our strength to modernize and refocus the gastronomic culture of our magnificent country, so that he is worthy of his greatness. Ramen, for example, is not Japanese, but Chinese. And yet, they are among the favorite dishes of the Japanese and the so-called “supporters” of Japan. It is not us, that all this highlights, but our terrible neighbor: China! We will not let go until all these enemies of Japan have left our archipelago for good ”.
It was thought that 2020 was horrible… but the years ahead look even worse if Mr. Shigatsuno Sakana’s political actions continue to gain momentum. A Japan without sushi, without ramen… A Japan that we will surely no longer recognize is looming on the horizon. It almost sounds like a bad dream, or a bad joke.
Hold on. Let’s get involved. #savemysushi #savemyramen