Concern mounts in Japan over Chinese-made foodLet us go through the list.
TOKYO— Japan on Friday warned China that its reputation was on the line as companies rushed to recall Chinese-made food after hundreds of Japanese said they fell ill from dumplings.
At least six major foodmakers ordered recalls of frozen and prepared foods that were suspected to have been produced at the same Chinese factory in Hebei province behind the food safety crisis, company officials said.
Big household names including Ajinomoto, Glico, Katokichi and Kibun recalled more than 30 dishes effective Friday including Chinese-style stir-fries, skewered and barbecued pork, beef tongue and curries.
China -- Japan's largest trading partner and second biggest supplier of imported food -- has said it found no pesticide in the dumplings as alleged in Japan but pledged an investigation.
Japanese officials warned that China needed to be thorough.
China "must exert all its efforts to make sure this will not trigger sentiment in Japan against products made in China," Trade Minister Akira Amari said.
Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said separately: "We can limit the negative impact on Japan-China relations to a minimum if both countries cooperate to investigate the cause and to deal correctly with any recurrence."
As supermarkets pulled the suspect food from shelves, the scare even spread to Japan's military which, despite sometimes fraught political relations with Beijing, bought frozen pork cutlets from the same Chinese factory.
Although no illnesses were reported, Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba ordered officials to comb through army kitchens and throw out any suspicious food...
- The Sankei Shimbun is Right! - At the end of the day, the Chinese government cannot be trusted. The factory producing the suspect frozen foods belongs to a state-owned company, right? Either the Chinese government's inspections systems are incompetent or in cahoots with the manufacturers. We have been daft to entrust any portion of our food supply to the Chinese.
Corollary: Fukuda Yasuo is a fool. Yasukuni sampai forever!
- It's the Olympic Year, Baby! - With every stop being pulled out to make the Beijing Olympics a success, the Chinese government is vulnerable to the least bit of bad news. The first few months of 2008 are your last chance to inflate every single little incident out of proportion in order to leverage as many concessions out of the Chinese as possible.
Corollary: we will gladly host your Olympic teams for the weeks up until the actual competitions.
- You see what happens when we globalize our agricultural markets? -We put little children into comas, that's what happens. Because when we produced all our own foodstuffs, nothing like this ever happened.
- We Love to Have Panics! - Every night our media directs us to a new person or development to fear. Sometimes we just cannot get ourselves excited about what the government and the media are ginning up. But sometimes the danger is so random, so banal and so in line with our prejudices (against prepared food, against the Chinese Communist Party) that the whole populace can join together in a cathartic burst of paranoia.
- Hey, Japan Tobacco, We Own You! - The big culprit on the home side is Japan Tobacco, the formerly state-owned monopoly whose shares are still held in large measure by the Japanese government. JT has been trying to find new ways to make money, given that its main product suffers from a declining customer base (technically, the product kills the customers) . First, if you are going to damage the health of your customers through selling them poisonous agricultural products, you will damn well do so only from the approved list of poisonous agricultural products, capiche? And what is a Japanese public-owned company doing employing Chinese subcontractors to make food for the Japanese market, anyway?