Food sovereignty and education: A Japanese type of harmonization

Cover Page


Every civilization has specific social-cultural rituals for eating, and contemporary Japan is a particularly interesting case. The architects of the Japanese food policy use a special respect for food in two ways: first, as a tool of soft power to spread Japanese influence worldwide; second, as an effective way to ensure food security. It is the second component that interests the authors. The article identifies key issues of Japan’s food policy. Based on the institutional analysis and the food regime theory, the authors identify the structural nature of food import dependency of the Land of the Rising Sun. The combination of the comparative approach and retrospective analysis allowed to discover a number of elements that are closely connected with the idea of food sovereignty, especially the concept of shokuiku (food education). Based on the historical-genetic method, the authors suggest a cognitive route of the terminological unit “from the component of folklore to the legislative act” and identify structural-functional features of the Basic Law ( Shokuiku Kihon-ho ). The analysis of three Basic Plans for promotion of Shokuiku proved the institutional reorientation of Japan to collectivism, healthy lifestyle and dietetics of younger generations. Despite the fact that effectiveness of re-profiling was verified by empirical data, the article provides a critical analysis of shokuiku as well. The state monopoly on food knowledge and risk discourse legitimize ideologies, generate alarmist feelings and lead to food nationalism.

About the authors

S V Chugrov

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University)

Author for correspondence.
Prosp. Vernadskogo, 76, Moscow, Russia, 119454

A V Malov

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Lomonosova Prosp., 27, GSP-1, Moscow, Russia, 119991


  1. Zarubina N.N., Kravchenko S.A., Noskova A.V., Karpova D.N., Goloukhova D.V. Sotsiologiya pitaniya: traditsii i transformatsii [Sociology of Food: Traditions and Transformations]. Moscow; 2017 (In Russ.).
  2. Kirichenko M.A. Vospitanie cherez kulturu pitaniya v yaponskom detskom sadu [Education through food culture in the Japanese kindergarten]. (In Russ.).
  3. Malov A.V. Prodovolstvenny suverenitet: politicheskaya kontseptsiya, obshchestvennoe dvizhenie i kontr-gegemonistskii diskurs XXI veka [Food sovereignty: Political concept, social movement and counter-hegemonic discourse of the 21st century]. Gosudarstvennoe Upravlenie. 2017; 65 (6) (In Russ.).
  4. Malov A.V. Mezhdunarodny prodovolstvenny rezhim [International food regime]. Vestnik MGIMO-Universiteta. 2018; 1 (In Russ.).
  5. Nalivayko O.A. Hayasi Razan “Zametki povara” [Hayashi Razan “Hōchō shoroku”]. Huminitarian Studies in Easterm Siberia and Far East. 2017; 1 (In Russ.).
  6. Trotsuk I.V. The “sociological-caloric” value of food: Culinary, cultural, and spatial “measurements”. Russian Sociological Review. 2018; 17 (1) (In Russ.).
  7. Chugrov S.V. Sotsiokulturnaya traditsiya i vneshnepolitichesky mentalitet sovremennoi Yaponii [Socio-cultural tradition and foreign-policy mentality of contemporary Japan]. Moscow; 2007 (In Russ.).
  8. Ikegami K., Iwasaki M., Harayama K., Fijihara T. Shoku-no kyodotai. Doin-kara rentai-e [Community of Food: From Mobilization to Solidarity]. Kyoto; 2008 (In Jap.).
  9. Inoguchi T. Seiji riron [Political Theory]. Tokyo; 2015 (In Jap.).
  10. Ishizuka S. Kagakuteki shokuyo chojuron [Chemical Theory of Diet for Longevity]. Tokyo; 1896 (In Jap.).
  11. Ishizuka S. Tsuyoku shokubutsu yoseiho [Popular Diet]. Tokyo; 1899 (In Jap.).
  12. Nishimura K. Shokuiku — Seikatsu-ni yoru ‘shoku-no shuken’ kaifuku undo to shokuiku: sosharu-inobeshon-no kanten-kara [Shokuiku — food education as consumers movements of regaining the sovereignty over food: From the viewpoint of social innovation]. Doshisha daigaku seisaku kagaku kenkyu. 2008; 10 (2) (In Jap.).
  13. Nihon no suiden inasaku geiki suru shomondai (Problems of Revival of Aspic Rice Cultivation in Japan). Kokusai Nihon gaku. 2017; 14 (In Jap.).
  14. Fujita S., Yoshiike N., Imayama T., Nakasuji N. Kokyo seisaku-no shiten-kara mita chiiki shakai-ni okeru shokuiku-no kanosei [Possibility of Shokuiku (food education) in communities as a public policy]. Nihon shokuiku gakkai shi. 2015; 9 (In Jap.).
  15. Hayashi R. Hocho shoroku [Cook’s notes]. Nihon zuihitsu taisei. Tokyo; 1976. Vol. 23 (In Jap.).
  16. Yaguchi Y. Shokuryo shuken kakuho-no imi to joken — shohisha nizu ga seisan-shohi-wo kaeru [Meaning and condition of ‘food sovereignty’: Consumer needs can change our production and consumption]. Syokuryo shuken kinkyu teigen kurashi-no anzen to anshin-no tame-ni.) Tokyo; 2000 (In Jap.).
  17. Yamashita K. Nogyo-no kozo mondai to seisaku-no kihon genri [Structural problems of agriculture and basic principles of policy]. Tokyo; 2004 (In Jap.).
  18. Annual Report on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in Japan. 2006. e/pdf/fy2006_rep.pdf.
  19. Annual Report on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in Japan. 2012. e/data/publish/attach/pdf/index-10.pdf.
  20. Annual Report on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in Japan. 2015. e/pdf/fy2014.pdf.
  21. Annual Report on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in Japan. 2017. j/wpaper/w_maff/h29/pdf/eibun/eibun1.pdf.
  22. Annual Report on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in Japan. 2018. e/data/publish/attach/pdf/index-93.pdf.
  23. Aoki K. Political economics involved in Japan’s safeguard. Seasonal Report. 2001; 45.
  24. Becker C.B. Foreword: Back to the future? Japanese environmental philosophy. New York; 2017.
  25. Bernstein H. Agrarian political economy and modern world capitalism: The contributions of food regime analysis. Journal of Peasant Studies. 2016; 43 (3).
  26. Claeys P. Vía Campesina’s struggle for the right to food sovereignty: From above or from below? Rethinking Food Systems: Structural Challenges, New Strategies, and the Law. San Francisco; 2014.
  27. Cross T. The Ideologies of Japanese Tea. Subjectivity, Transience аnd National Identity. Folkestone; 2009.
  28. Dogen. Instructions on Kitchen Work (Ji kuin mon). Treasury of the Trite Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō. Boston; 2010.
  29. Edelman M. Food sovereignty: Forgotten genealogies and future regulatory challenges. Journal of Peasant Studies. 2014; 41 (8).
  30. Hisano S. Food Security Politics and Alternative Agri-food Initiatives in Japan. Academic Forum on Food Security and Agricultural Development in East Asia. 2014. ~chousa/WP/131.pdf.
  31. Farina F. Japan in the international food regimes: Understanding Japanese food self-sufficiency decline. Feeding Japan: The Cultural and Political Issues of Dependency and Risk. London; 2017.
  32. Foucault M. The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language. New York; 1972.
  33. Friedmann H., McMichael P. Agriculture and the state system: The rise and decline of national agricultures, 1870 to the present. Sociologica Ruralis. 1989; 29.
  34. Friedmann H. The political economy of food: A global crisis. New Left Review. 1993; 197 (1).
  35. Friedmann H. Feeding the empire: Pathologies of globalized agriculture. The Socialist Register 2005. London; 2004.
  36. Goodman D., Watts M. Agrarian questions: Global appetite, local metabolism: nature, culture, and industry in fin-de-siècle agro-food systems. Globalising Food: Agrarian Questions and Global Restructuring. London; 1997.
  37. Holden T.J.M. The Well-Tempura’d Nation: Japan, television food shows and cultural nationalism. Paper presented at the 5th Conference of the Asia Pacific Sociological Association. Brisbane; 2002.
  38. Holden T.J.M. Japan’s Mediated «Global» Identities. 2008. MediatedSociety.
  39. Inutsuka Yu. Sensation, betweenness, rhythms: Watsuji’s environmental philosophy and ethics in conversation with Heidegger. Japanese Environmental Philosophy. New York; 2017.
  40. Jussaume R., Shūji H., Yoshimitsu T. Food safety in modern Japan. Japanstudien. 2001; 12 (1).
  41. Kimura A., Nishiyama M. The chisan-chisho movement: Japanese local food movement and its challenges. Agriculture and Human Values. 2008; 25 (1).
  42. Kimura H. Food education as food literacy: privatized and gendered food knowledge in contemporary Japan. Food and Foodways. 2011; 19 (3).
  43. Kojima A. Responsibility or right to eat well: Food education (Shokuiku) campaign in Japan. Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs. 2011; 11 (1).
  44. Lupton D. Risk as moral danger: The social and political functions of risk discourse in public health. International Journal of Health Services. 1993; 23 (3).
  45. Mah C. Governing food and public health in contemporary Japan. Journal of Sociology. 2010; 46 (4).
  46. McMichael P. A food regime genealogy. Journal of Peasant Studies. 2009; 36 (1).
  47. McMichael P. A food regime analysis of the ‘World Food Crisis’. Agriculture and Human Values. 2009; 26 (46).
  48. Miyoshi M., Tsuboyama-Kasaoka N., Nishi N. School-based «Shokuiku» program in Japan: Application to nutrition education in Asian countries. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 21 (1).
  49. Ohe Y., Kurihara S., Shimoura S. Evaluating willingness to become a food education volunteer among urban residents in Japan: Toward a participatory food policy. Agricultural and Food Economics. 2014; 2 (6).
  50. Ohnuki-Tierney E. Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time. Princeton; 1994.
  51. Parkes G. Kūkai and Dōgen as exemplars of ecological engagement. Japanese Environmental Philosophy. Oxford — New York; 2017.
  52. Pechlaner G., Otero G. The Third Food Regime: Neoliberal globalism and agricultural biotechnology in North America. Sociologia Ruralis. 2008; 48 (46).
  53. Reiher C. Food pedagogies in Japan: From the implementation of the Basic Law on food education to Fukushima. Australian Journal of Adult Learning. 2012; 52 (3).
  54. Ritzer G. The Globalization: The Essentials. Hoboken; 2011.
  55. Rose N.S. Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge; 1999.
  56. Spencer H. Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical. London; 1861.
  57. Statistical handbook of Japan. 2018.
  58. Takeda H. Delicious food in a beautiful country: Nationhood and nationalism in discourses on food in contemporary Japan. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. 2008; 8 (1).
  59. Takeda H. Securitizing food in Japan: Global crises, domestic problems and a neoliberal state. Governing Insecurity in Japan: The Domestic Discourse and Policy Response. New York; 2014.
  60. Takeda W. Reconsidering Individualization of Eating: A Cross-Cultural Analysis on Determinants of Commensality and Solo-Eating. 2016. bitstream/1885/101431/1/Takeda%20Thesis%202016.pdf.
  61. Takeda W., Banwell C., Dixon J. Advancing food dovereignty or nostalgia: The construction of Japanese diets in the national Shokuiku policy. Anthropological Forum. 2016; 26 (3).
  62. Takeda W., Melby M.K., Ishikawa Y. Food education for whom? Perceptions of food education and literacy among dietitians and laypeople in urban Japan. Food Studies. 2017; 7 (4).
  63. Takimoto H., Sarukura N., Ishikawa-Takata K. How to define family meals in “Shokuiku” (Food and Nutrition Education). Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 2015; 61.
  64. Wegren S.K., Nikulin A.M., Trotsuk I.V. The Russian variant of food security. Problems of Post-Communism. 2016; 64 (1).
  65. White paper on Shokuiku. 2016.
  66. Wittman H. Food sovereignty: A new rights framework for food and nature? Environment and Society: Advances in Research. Special Issue on Food. 2011; 2 (1).



Abstract - 697

PDF (Russian) - 294




Copyright (c) 2019 Chugrov S.V., Malov A.V.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This website uses cookies

You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.

About Cookies