The Problem With Econa Food Oil

Applying the “Precautionary Principle” would help Japan avoid problems like the Econa food oil scandal

In September, Kao Corp. announced [1] that it would “temporarily” stop sales of its best-selling Econa food oil products, called Enova in North America [2]. The news was a shock to everyone in Japan as the products carried the designated health food label, indicating that the oil was a food for specified health uses (such as cholesterol reduction). This is an example of the confusion that can occur because Japan does not apply the precautionary principle in its food legislation. Read More »

Posted October 14th, 2009 in Food

7000 People Saying No To Nuclear!

By Tomiyama Yoko, Consumers Union of Japan/Co-chair of No Nukes Festa 2009

On October 3, 2009 a big manifestation with 7000 people from all over Japan met in Meiji Park, Tokyo for the No Nukes Festa 2009. The theme of the event was to highlight the links between nuclear weapons and energy production using nuclear power.

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Speakers included local activists against controversial nuclear power plants aroud Japan, such as the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, the Hamaoka nuclear plants, the Kashiwasaki-Kariwa nuclear plants, and the campaign against high-level radioactive waste in Gifu prefecture.Victims from the accident at JCO in Ibaraki talked about the risks and participants heard an emotional appeal from peace activists and cyclists who noted the sense of insecurity among people living near nuclear facilities, and their concern for their health and the environment

Read More »

Posted October 7th, 2009 in Nuclear

Strong Concerns About New Consumer Agency, Consumer Committee

Consumer Agency and Consumer Committee:


Launch amid Strong Concerns about Structure, Members and more

By Yamaura Yasuaki

Secretary General of of Consumers Union of Japan

Japan’s LDP-led government scrambled to launch the Consumer Agency and the Consumer Committee on September 1, 2009. It was clear that the launch was rushed to happen while Taro Aso was still prime minister, but the LDP-selected Sumita Hiroko, who was expected to be chairman, refused to participate after criticism. Then Hayashi Fumiko from car company Nissan Co. refused to take the helm in order to participate in the election instead. Hiwasa Nobuko from food maker Snow Brand Milk Products Co. who has previously served as secretary-general of the National Liaison Committee of Consumers’ Organizations (Shodanren) was chosen as a member while one other post is still vacant.

Why is the president of Asahi Breweries Ltd. a member of the Consumer Committee?!

Eventually, Matsumoto Tsuneo from the Hitotsubashi University Law School was elected as chairman of the Consumer Committee. Representing consumers, the members are Sano Mariko from Japan Housewives’ Association, Shimoyachi Fujiko from Japan Association of Consumer Affairs Specialists, Sakurai Keiko from Gakushuin University, Tajima Makoto from Jissen Women’s Educational University, journalist Kawada Keiko and lawyer Nakamura Masato from Japan Federation of Bar Associations. In addition, Ikeda Koichi, who is president of Asahi Breweries Ltd. was selected to represent the corporate sector.

This committee was nominated without any transparency by outgoing consumer minister Seiko Noda of the notoriously opaque LDP administration and the LDP-led Cabinet Office. The Consumer Committee is supposed to deal with matters involving consumer protection, but we cannot say from the consumer perspective that unexpectedly including representatives from the corporate sector will be seen as making the Consumer Committee independent nor will it enable the committee to give advice to the Prime Minister or the Consumer Agency. Read More »

Posted September 30th, 2009 in Uncategorized

Protect Biodiversity in Nagoya

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Protect biodiversity from living modified organisms at MOP5 in Nagoya!

Read updates here: Nagoya 2010

Japan Citizens’ Network for Planet Diversity (JCNPD) is a nationwide network for citizens who are working on protecting our food crop diversity from living modified organisms.

We started this network in order to act on the United Nations’ major meeting to be held in Nagoya, October 2010, for the Protocol on Biosafety (also called Cartagena Protocol) which regulates the international trade of organisms modified by modern biotechnology (living modified organisms).

We want the meeting in Nagoya to define rules to protect consumers and the environment. The rules will be a crucial element of the global regulations regarding the integrity and continued sustainable use of living organisms under threat from certain risky applications of modern biotechnology.

Make binding global rules!

The Cartagena Protocol was adopted as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. It sets forth procedures for the transport, handling, and use of living organisms modified by modern biotechnology (LMO) that have the potential to adversely affect biodiversity. The protocol specifies regulations on cross-border transfer of modified living organisms developed with biotechnology, such as genetically modified agricultural seed, food products, and microorganisms. Such regulations are needed because of the possibility that LMOs can exert adverse effects on other living organisms. Read More »

Posted July 29th, 2009 in Biodiversity

Cloning: The Real Problem In Japan

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By Yasuaki Yamaura

In April 2008, Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) was asked by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour to make an assessment of the safety of food from cloned animals. Somatic cell cloning has recently emerged as an issue also in Japan, and on February 29, 2009, a special assessment group on cloned animals set up in the FSC’s Expert Committee announced that such food was safe.

On March 24, 2009, the Food Safety Commission once more discussed this topic. However, it became clear that there were a number of unresolved issues and serious problems related to this technology. CUJ raised several questions at this meeting. We were told that in Japan, some 1,240,000 cows are slaughtered annually, and among them approximately 720,000 have some defects or show symptoms of disease. The officials reluctantly admitted that in such cases, the lesions or sick parts are simply removed, and the rest of the carcass is used for food. Clearly, we must assume that the same practice will continue also in the case of sick cloned animals. Read More »

Posted July 1st, 2009 in Biotechnology

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