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Takeo Koizumi
Gender Male
Nationality Japan
Ethnic Japanese
Job Food Culture Expert
  Food Expert
  Japanese Professor
  Chairman of the Group to Preserve Whale Dietary Culture
Desc A professor emeritus at Tokyo University of Agriculture and a leading expert in zymology, has a great knowledge of Washoku
  He is director of the Fermentation-culture Promotion Agency and serves concurrently as a food-related advisor for many national and local governmental groups. He has written more than one hundred books relating to food

Affiliation

Org Fermentation-culture Promotion Agency
  Group to Preserve Whale Dietary Culture
Teaching Tokyo University

Notes

Expertise Fermentation
  Zymology
  Washoku
  Sake

2003 12 Publish: Appreciating the Whale Diet Culture Anew

As Japan is an island country surrounded by the seas, it has seen the development of a unique fish dietary culture that has not been seen in any other parts of the world. The Japanese are rice-cultivating people, but more than that, they are fish-eating people

In any period of our history, we have revered and paid gratitude to the whale and have been strengthened by the benefit of valuable protein provided by the whale. The evidence that Japan cared about whales more than any anti-whaling country in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) can be witnessed in the fact that temples and shrines have been built near whaling ports in various parts of Japan as a token of respect and gratitude to the whale. It is no exaggeration to say that the blood of the whale has flown in each Japanese person who has consumed whale as important gift from the sea

This whale culture, especially the whale dietary culture, which is filled with tradition, is now facing the risk of being driven to extinction by illogical sophistry of anti-whaling countries. This is sheerly an unacceptable situation. To date, Japan has been carrying out cautious scientific research on whales under the IWC Scientific Committee, and conclusions have been drawn that the continuation of the whaling culture in Japan can be fully guaranteed. However, anti-whaling groups try not to recognize these findings

The original intent of the establishment of the International Whaling Commission was to research the whale resources scientifically to ensure proper utilization of the resources, to select the whales species that can be harvested and to determine catch quotas. For this purpose, the IWC commissioned its Scientific Committee to carry out scientific research. Over a long span of time, the Scientific Committee has conducted highly accurate research and analysis of the whale resources, and finally came up with a management procedure that can ensure utilization while allowing the resources to increase. The Committee recommended annual quotas to the Commission

However, despite the progress in scientific research, anti-whaling countries, such as the United States, France and Australia, strengthened their political move behind the scene, and attempted to divert the original purpose of the scientific activities, ramming through the adoption of a commercial whaling moratorium. Since then, confrontation between whaling and anti-whaling members emerged, as repeatedly observed in the IWC annual meetings

At the latest annual meeting in Berlin this past June, the whaling countries’ request for the resumption of commercial whaling was refused by a seemingly violent exercise of unilateral forces by the anti-whaling bloc. On top of that, a resolution designed to turn the IWC into an anti-whaling organization was adopted. In other words, the original objective of the IWC to ensure ‘proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry’ [preamble to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling] was transformed into ‘conservation of whales’ alone.

Furthermore, the anti-whaling forces strengthened their protective stance by establishing the ‘Conservation Committee’ to expedite their protectionist programs.

Thus, the anti-whaling countries acted recklessly to radically change the nature of the IWC. Their only reason is the ‘protection of whales’. What we see there is a unilateral denial of science, without any theoretical backing. One cannot but feel futility when considering the continuous research and studies of the Scientific Committee’s efforts so far.

Whaling nations, Japan being one, have their own traditional whale cultures and surrounding dietary cultures. Do the anti-whaling nations really have the right or the authority to drive that culture into extinction with the power of numbers? The anti-whaling countries blatantly disregard the basic objectives of the Convention advocating both the conservation and utilization of whale resources and deny lending their ears to the position of whaling nations. We should not overlook here that among the anti-whaling countries that voted affirmatively at the Berlin meeting for establishment of the Conservation Committee (versus 20 against), there are countries that have had no whale culture. Is this a true form of democracy? It seems to me that it is nothing but a kind of fascism

It is shown scientifically that there exist about 760,000 minke whales in the Antarctic, and if those stocks are properly managed and conserved, commercial harvesting can be fully guaranteed, with no negative effect on their conservation. This conclusion of scientific research was totally disregarded by the outlandish tyranny of the majority

It is a curious fact that the United States, which stands at the forefront of the anti-whaling campaign, is itself a whaling country. The U.S. government allows its Alaskan indigenous people to catch a 5-year quota of 280 bowhead whales under the name of subsistence whaling. Scientific surveys show that the bowhead whale is the most endangered species. It is this species that should be protected

If whales are indispensable as food for native Americans, then the use of Antarctic minke whales, guaranteed as exploitable as a result of scientific research, is more compatible with ‘proper utilization and orderly whaling’.

Some scientific surveys show that cetaceans consume fish in the amount of 3-7 times the human consumption annually, and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other fisheries management bodies warn against excessive protection of whales. If we leave the whales to increase simply because they are lovable animals, the marine ecosystem may be doomed to change. In order to cope with global food shortage, anticipated to occur not in the too long distance, the Japanese people should fully recognize the importance of whaling for the supply of food

2006 04 04 Retrieve

[Japanese who lived through the famine years at the close of World War II. In those days, whale meat provided a lifeline to a truly starving population, accounting for nearly half of all animal protein consumption, and earning itself a revered position in the nation’s food culture] It is no exaggeration to say that the blood of the whale has flown in each Japanese person who has consumed whale as [an] important gift from the sea

2014 09 Retrieve

The Washoku centered diet has prolonged the average life expectancy of Japanese people. To put it boldly, Washoku is a healthy food that saves mankind

The main dish of traditional Washoku uses root vegetables such as Japanese radishes and potatoes, greens, edible wild plants in spring, mushrooms from the mountains in autumn, as well as beans and seaweeds. In addition, seasonal ingredients that are most nutritious and most delicious are cleverly used as well. This is the wisdom of Japanese food culture

Many people claim to be relieved of constipation after eating Washoku. A healthy intestine increases immune strength. Washoku also reduces the risk of adult diseases that trouble modern people

[Soy beans is the basic ingredient of Washoku] Soy beans contain so much protein, equivalent to the amount contained in beef, they are called the meat that grows in a field. During the Edo period (17th-19th century), miso soup with tofu containing ground natto or fermented soy beans, and abura-age (thinly sliced tofu deep fried in vegetable oil) was the source of stamina for workmen

The secret to the taste of Washoku is in the dashi [fish stock] culture. Dashi is an extract taken from boiling dried ingredients including kelp, shiitake mushrooms and bonito shavings (processed food made by fermenting bonito). This is the basic seasoning of Japanese food and is used for making soups such as miso soup, soup for udon and soba noodles and for cooking vegetables

What’s amazing about dashi is that no grease components come floating up in the soup even though it uses dried bonito shavings, whose basic ingredient is fatty bonito. This is because fermentative bacteria in dried bonito shavings discomposes grease components. The refined pure taste of Washoku all depends on the umami of dashi. It has been said that human beings have the sense of 5 different tastes of sweet, spicy, salty, sour and bitter, but the dashi culture introduced the taste of umami to the world

The humid weather in Japan is optimum for microbes to be active. People in Japan have used fermentation in their food culture for more than 1,300 years, using many microbes that exist only in Japan

2015 07 Retrieve

[Rieko Suzuki : Why is Japan so intimately involved with fish?] Japan is a maritime nation surrounded by the ocean. From long ago there were many opportunities for catching fish, and records of eating fish date back to the middle of the Jomon Period [approximately four or five thousand years ago]. The Oyashio and Kuroshio currents carry small fish close to the coastal areas, and they attract packs of larger fish in pursuit, so there is an abundance of fishing grounds along the coasts.

When we look inland, we see that a mountain range runs along the center of Japan, with annual rainfall of almost two thousand milliliters. That large amount of rainwater is split by the mountain range and flows down to both the Pacific (eastern side) and the Sea of Japan (western side) forming a vast number of rivers. Thanks to this, the clear water streams were blessed with an abundance of freshwater fish, including species such as ayu [sweetfish] and ugui [dace]. Because the Japanese are a rice-farming people, we have reservoirs and marshes for creating rice paddies, and since fish live there as well, the people seldom ate meat until about a hundred years ago. Fish were their primary source of animal protein

[Rieko Suzuki : What part do fish play in the creation and composition of washoku?] Washoku is comprised of seven principal types of ingredients and one supporting ingredient. The principal ingredients include root crops, greens, fruits and vegetables, edible wild plants, pulse crops - of which soybeans are prominent-marine plants, and grains, of which rice is prominent. Added to these is a supporting ingredient consisting of animal protein-fish, meat, eggs and so on.

While animal proteins are converted to amino acids inside the body and function as a source of stamina, the vegetable proteins contained in soybeans provide sufficient energy from a nutritional standpoint. Thus a washoku meal can be complete without the supporting ingredient. However, among the animal proteins, fish have the longest history as a dish eaten by the Japanese people, and so it is an essential part of washoku culture. Having a strong reverence and protective spirit for animals, the Japanese are a people who have been said to refuse to eat four-legged animals, even in times of famine. But they would gratefully accept the life force of fish, and leave nothing to waste, even eating the entrails and bones

…fish have the longest history as a dish eaten by the Japanese people, and so it is an essential part of washoku culture. Having a strong reverence and protective spirit for animals, the Japanese are a people who have been said to refuse to eat four-legged animals, even in times of famine. But they would gratefully accept the life force of fish, and leave nothing to waste, even eating the entrails and bones

[Rieko Suzuki : Umami has become a globally common term. How have fish been a part of umami culture?] From a physiological standpoint, the sense of taste was long considered to involve five flavors: sweet, spicy, sour, bitter and salty. Now umami [savory] has been added to that list. When soybeans are fermented, their proteins are converted to amino acids mainly comprised of glutamic acid, while fish proteins are converted to nucleic acids comprised mainly of inosinic acid. When these two types of acids are mixed, they create a synergistic effect that stimulates a magnified sense of umami. The Japanese people taught the rest of the world about umami, and I believe this is precisely why umami has now become a globally common term

[Rieko Suzuki : What are the defining characteristics of fish in Japan?] First of all, because there is an amazing variety of fish, fish can be enjoyed seasonally when they are at their most delicious, when they are cheap and most available, have the most nutritional value, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Second, both Japan’s seawater and freshwater fish can be consumed raw. Third is the presence of soy sauce, which is a seasoning that goes well with fish. Nothing goes as well with fish as the umami of soy sauce, which is made by fermenting soybeans.

In Japan, it is said that children today do not like fish, but that is because the adults did not properly instill the custom of eating fish in them when they were younger. The effects of what children eat today will appear thirty years from now. I would like to stress that children should be properly taught from a young age to eat a healthy washoku diet that mainly features fish, soybeans and vegetables

In Japan, it is said that children today do not like fish, but that is because the adults did not properly instill the custom of eating fish in them when they were younger. The effects of what children eat today will appear thirty years from now. I would like to stress that children should be properly taught from a young age to eat a healthy washoku diet that mainly features fish, soybeans and vegetables

2018 09 08 Retrieve

[This is quite remarkable considering that history commonly attributes the discovery of microorganisms to Anton van Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch lens-maker who devised the first microscope in 1673, at least a few centuries later] It is amazing to think that nearly one thousand years ago, tane koji [isolated koji spores] makers were clever enough to cultivate pure tane koji using ash, then market it as a starter under the same name to soy-sauce manufacturers, miso manufacturers and sake brewers. Nowhere else in the world at this time could you find anyone able to isolate and purify microorganisms, let alone market them as an individual commodity. One can only marvel at the extraordinary depth of knowledge of the Japanese people at that time. Judging by the fact that those involved were no doubt aware of the ‘anti-bacterial powers’ of ash when they used it to isolate and purify tane koji, it might be accurate to consider the Japanese as the first people to purify and isolate microorganisms