Robert Gentel wrote:
. . . but the point I wanted to make is that it wasn't just a cultural decision, their diet is hugely shaped by their land.
You're either being disingenous and erecting a straw man, or you failed to understand what i'm saying. Their choice to eat fish and whale meat
is a cultural choice, and of pretty recent date. The Japanese did not become blue water sailors until after the end of the Meiji era, in the mid-19th century. Even then, it was not until the 20th century that they began to become large scale pelagic fishers--and they only started hunting the whale after the Second World War.
Again, I don't make this claim. Just disputing the notion that Japan's taste for sea food is just a cultural thing.
Well, obviously, i disagree. During the Tokugawa shogunate, in the 17th and 18th centuries, the population of Japan was about 30,000,000 and rising, and at the beginning of that period, they produced about 25,000,000 koku
of rice per annum. A koku
is variously defined as 170 or 180 liters or rice (and some wild variation is seen among historians), but the important measure is that it was considered sufficient rice to feed an adult male for one year. The production of rice during the Tokugawa shogunate increased at about the same rate as the population, as more land was brought into production, and agricultural methods were perfected. Just as was the case in Europe at the time, most people simply didn't eat meat, including fish. What fish they got they got from the inland sea, and it was reserved (apart for the fishing villages themselves) almost exclusively for the Bushi class and the Daimyo. But significantly, they continued to produce sufficient rice for domestic needs, and imported other foods from their conquered territories in Korea.
Once again, the taste for fish and whale meat is of very recent date, and is a cultural choice, because they could as easily meet their protein needs from imported foods, which would cost no more, and very likely much less than the fish they import.
The following is a statement made in 1996 by the then Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Takoa Fujimoto at World Food Summit in Rome:
Japan's self-sufficiency ratio for cereals is as low as 30 percent, an exceptionally low level compared to other developed countries. Because of this background, most of our nationals are concerned over the future food situation in our country. Taking this into account, our agricultural policy stresses the maintenance and expansion, as appropriate, of domestic production, making effective use of our existing production resources.
However, since it is difficult to supply all necessary food from domestic production, due to limited production resources such as land, we are striving to best respond to the needs of our nationals by appropriately combining food imports and stockpiling in addition to domestic food production.
Note that the 30% refers to cereal
production, and not just rice. Buckwheat has long been grown in Japan, largely to make noodles. Even in Tokugawa Japan, they didn't nearly produce all the wheat they consumed, and got most of what they ate from Korea (which they had partially conquered in the period just before Tokugawa Ieyasu became Shogun).
. . . they do not have the ability to feed themselves from their own land and this was not a cultural choice.
Meeting their food needs with fish and whale meat is the cultural choice to which i have been referring. I would rather not have to repeat that again and again. By the way, in Miss Olga's whaling thread, DP posted information which shows that the Japanese eat a half pound of fish per capita each day
, and that does not include whale meat (of course, whales are not fish).