What’s wrong with a little bacon, you say? Pork is one of the most widely consumed meats around the world. But not all pork is the same, as was brought to light recently in Japan.
On a trip to southern Japan a few days ago for a US-Japan joint satellite launch, United States Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy commented that she would like to try a local pork delicacy famous to Kagoshima Prefecture. However, her comment became a hot issue, prompting many Japanese netizens to take their confused and even angry comments online. Keep reading to find out why this seemingly simple comment became such a big deal in light of recent events.
Two points are relevant to understand the context of Ambassador Kennedy’s remark and why it irritated Japanese netizens so much. First, the variety of pork in question comes from the Berkshire pig, a rare breed that is originally from England and of which there are only a few hundred breeding sows around the world. One of the few places where they are bred happens to be in the southern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima, where they are known simply as Kagoshima kurobuta (“Kagoshima black pig”). Berkshire pork is heavily marbled and is prized as a delicacy in the area.
▼ Not just cute, but on the rare breeds list
Second, the issue was exacerbated by the fact that Ambassador Kennedy had just criticized the annual dolphin drive hunting in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture on her Twitter account on January 18.
Such a prominent public figure openly condemning the hunt thrust the topic once again into the international media, where Japan already receives pressure from many countries to end the controversial practice. Many advocate groups are even urging the US to pull out of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement among several oceanic countries, if Japan does not end the hunt. The Japanese embassy responded to her tweet by stating that the hunt is “one of our country’s traditional fishing practices; it is grounded on law and is enforced appropriately.”
Therefore, many Japanese people were bothered by how Ambassador Kennedy seemed untroubled to eat pork from a rare breed of pig on the one hand, while criticized the slaughter of another species of mammal on the other. Some of the comments they posted online included thoughts such as:”
“Don’t you feel bad for the poor pigs?”
“So pigs are OK but dolphins are no good, huh?”
“What’s the difference between pigs and dolphins?”
The American embassy in Japan declined to comment on the issue and has not specified a reason. We’re staying well out of this one.