Food

Japan wants cuisine listed as UNESCO heritage

March 11, 2012

Japan is applying to UNESCO to have its cuisine  listed as a global treasure. - AFP picJapan is applying to UNESCO to have its cuisine listed as a global treasure. - AFP picTOKYO, March 11 — Japan said it was applying to UNESCO to have its cuisine listed as a global cultural treasure as part of a bid to restore global confidence in its food after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. 

Tokyo is to ask the UN’s educational, scientific and cultural arm to register “Washoku: Traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese” as part of the intangible heritage of humanity, the foreign and agriculture ministries said. 

“Washoku” or the Japanese diet, is traditionally based on rice, fish and vegetables, but the varied and highly seasonal cuisine of the country has won it plaudits around the world. 

The government said washoku was characterised by respect for nature and the importance placed on the way in which dishes are served as well as the quality of ingredients used. 

The nation also “needs to restore confidence in Japanese food, which has been adversely affected by rumours due to the nuclear accident” at Fukushima, the government said. 

The accident sent poisonous radioactive particles into the air and water, blanketing crops grown near the power station and polluting waters where seafood is harvested. 

A number of products were taken off shelves, with government bans on beef, milk, mushrooms and some green vegetables. 

Several countries banned the import of some Japanese produce amid fears for its safety. Japan would apply for the listing “as a symbol of Japan’s reconstruction from the disaster,” the government said. 

Today marks the first anniversary of the 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami, which triggered meltdowns in reactors at Fukushima. 

The application will be filed with UNESCO by the end of March, with a decision expected by late 2013. 

Certain kinds of traditional theatre and music, as well as the gastronomy of France, are recognised by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. — Afp-Relaxnews