Lies, lies and yet more lies

10 Nov

It seems that the truth is too much to ask for.

For years Japanese companies have been changing labels on their ‘PREMIUM’ menu items. While the recent news is about food ingredients in high end shops this writer is convinced that the lying pervades the entire retail sector. For example shoes labeled “made in Japan” are actually mostly made overseas but have their final assembly in Japan. Many years ago those shoes would in fact have been made in Japan from imported rubber and leather, but that is no longer the case. Yet the general public believes these shoes are Japanese. Not a big deal I suppose but it reflects just how deep the falsehoods have become.

In this most recent case PREMIUM means more expensive. As anyone who has ever shopped in Japan can tell you that the prices here are sometimes outrageous. $50 melons not withstanding the Japanese consumer is routinely ripped off, lied to and politely asked to shop again at brand name stores.

Real Japanese beef in a country that imports about 60% of its caloric intake sounds like a lie one would tell to a child yet the average Suzuki shopper believes it. Rice crackers are made of imported rice mostly from Vietnam and Thailand, yet most are shocked to hear this is so. Everyone is running around thinking their food is entirely made of top quality Japanese stuff when clearly it is not. Rice companies blend their rice with Chinese and American stuff, then turn around and ask top prices for PREMIUM domestic brands. Shrimp, Beef, Rice its all so false that I don’t believe any of it. Yet some of this stuff must actually be the “real” stuff after all. Right ?

How long can a reputation last when it has been caught with its collective fist in the cookie jar ? We are seeing it with the national bottom up movement against nuclear power. Its now acceptable to buck the trend and go against the mainstream of society. Japan is a culture and society built upon very slow progressive change but I see a groundswell of increasingly more progressive change coming. Less than 2 weeks ago politician Taro Yamamoto broke with tradition and taboo by handing the Emperor a document about the ongoing troubles at the Fukushima reactor. My guess is that Emperor Akihito is mostly unaware of the struggles and realities of the situation and is listening to the palace insiders who assure him that everything is under control. Hopefully this public act violating taboo will serve as an example for others to step forward and tell the truth.

Recently the food label lies have come to light. One can only wonder what is next.

As Bob Dylan said “the times they are a changing”.

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