Food risks are easily globalized due to entanglements inherent in the global agri-food system. Despite their global scale food risks have different local impacts on consumption, policy, trade and safety due to national legislation, hygiene systems and risk communication, amongst other factors.
This symposium will focus on food risks, food politics and consumer rights in contemporary Japan where several food safety problems have recently emerged. Radioactively contaminated food in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe is one of the challenges that needs to be addressed, as well as the safety of food imports, especially from China. Food safety standards and thresholds for genetically modified crops, pesticides and food additives in the context of the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are also heatedly debated.
In this symposium, these and other issues will be addressed from regional and global perspectives with a special emphasis on East Asia. This is important because of Japan’s strong dependency on Chinese food imports, often associated with nationalist rhetoric when safety problems with imported foods occur. At the same time South Korea faces many similar problems as Japan in the realm of food safety and consumer advocacy. Therefore, networks between South Korean and Japanese consumer advocacy groups exist. Free Trade Agreements such as TPP that aim to harmonize food safety standards and address a variety of sanitary and phytosanitary measures are also of interest beyond the region and many similarities in discourses around the TPP and similar FTAs in other regions like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are striking.
The symposium provides a forum for discussing food safety and consumer advocacy in East Asia from a Japanese perspective by merging cultural, political and economic analyses and including consumers’, retailers’ and producers’ perspectives to answer the question of how consumers’ right to safe food can be achieved in Japan. By inviting scholars and practitioners from Asia, the US and Europe this question will be discussed from various angles. Drawing on Japan in its East Asian context as an example, this symposium will shed light on some of the challenges we face in the global agri-food system in the realm of food safety.