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    Funding the food fusses

    The Japanese government has decided to make a greater effort to encourage citizens to eat healthy foods–no surprise, given the collectivist bent of Japanese society and the paternalist bent of the federal ministries. Humiliatingly, it sounds as if what it comes up with may be less patronizing than the USDA’s latest orgy of finger-wagging:

    The government is aiming to start a trend of “dietary education” by which, through families, schools, and regional governments, proper knowledge and judgment about diet will be learned; by the beginning of September, a council to promote dietary education, headed by the Prime Minister and consisting of relevant cabinet officials and experts, will be created. The goal is to formulate a basic plan within the year that incorporates concrete policies efficacious in the preservation of [Japan’s] traditional dietary culture and [improvements to] communication between local governments and farmers.

    The potential for boondoggling here is nearly illimitable, of course–lots of pointless new boards and committees and community centers. Japanese agriculture and education policies are full of those already.

    Yes, the Japanese diet is becoming less healthy. That always happens when people are rich. Still, even people who eat Western foods frequently seem to prefer to base their diets on Japanese foods, and it’s hard to get fat on them. There are a lot of people in Tokyo who could stand to take in a far lower percent of their daily calories through alcohol, but I somehow doubt that’s going to be one of the new council’s focal points.

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