At Mistura today, I also had the privilege of bumping into Yukio Hattori, president of the renown Japanese Hattori Cooking and Nutrition school, commentator on Iron Chef and one of the foremost public authorities on food in Japan. To be honest, I didn’t know who he was until today, but when a Japanese girl got excited to see him next to me and asked to have her picture taken with him, I quickly did the same. I went away for 10 seconds and then sprang back to ask his translator if I could pose Mr. Hattori some questions on Bluefin Tuna and Japan. He graciously accepted. Here is the roughly transcribed and translated exchange.
What do you think of bluefin tuna consumption in light of international consensus on its near state of extinction?
Previously, only Japan was eating tuna, but now the consumer base is international, this is the main problem. There is nevertheless talk in Japan to reduce consumption by 30%.
Do chefs in Japan discuss this issue, is the restaurant industry concerned?
The issue mainly concerns sushi chefs, many of whom see it as a usable resource as long as it is available.
What do you think about Mitsubishi’s large stores of frozen bluefin tuna and continued bulk purchasing?
They are worried about it running out, this is why.
Is there really no debate in Japan given international outcry and movements to protect the fish?
There is a debate. At the top, we are aware. Some are suggesting up to a 50% reduction of consumption. It is obvious to us that there are limits to how much can be taken from the sea.
What do you think about your government’s openly declared boycott and lobbying efforts against any international legislation to ban the trade of bluefin tuna?
The Japanese government is another issue altogether.
Thank you very much Mr. Hattori and your kind translators for allowing me this brief interview. These responses unfortunately leave me very doubtful about Japan ever assuming any responsibility to prevent this magnificent fish from going extinct (read my article from 2010 on my main page if you wish to be brought up to speed). Reader, keep the pressure on from outside, and do not eat tuna! By eating any species of tuna you are supporting fishing and demand for the others, and they are all rapidly being depleted.
Later in the day, I posed with a tuna mascot for a canned brand being sold in Peru. The booth hosts invited me to check out their products, which included canned fish and many fruit products. I quipped back that I don’t support companies who sell tuna, that I don’t eat anything from the sea, and asked them if at the very least their fish was caught with dolphin-safe nets. Of course they are! the reps told me. Whilst I began inspecting the cans, finding no dolphin-safe seal, the main rep asked me if I wanted to go see the fishing operations. Of course! I answered. A possibility actually opened up and I hope that I can bring you a positive report of what I discover. Stay tuned.