Dr. Stephanie Assmann(Akita University)
Stephanie Assmann is Associate Professor for Comparative Culture and Language Education at Akita University. She holds a PhD in Sociology of Japan from the University of Hamburg, Germany. Her research interests include the analysis of consumer behavior in Japan, in particular traditional fashion and food. Recent publications include Japanese Foodways, Past and Present, co-edited with Eric C. Rath (University of Illinois Press, 2010) and Food Action Nippon and Slow Food Japan: The Role of Two Citizen Movements in the Rediscovery of Local Foodways in: Globalization, Food and Social Identities in the Asia Pacific Region (Sophia University, 2010).
Unbalanced eating habits including leaving home without breakfast and consuming fatty food and ready-made meals have become a matter of serious concern in Japan. Weight problems, such as obesity but also skinniness, diabetes, coronary heart diseases, and high blood pressure are among prevalent lifestyle-related diseases supposedly caused by unbalanced nutritional habits. In 2005, the Japanese government initiated a nationwide food education campaign, termed shokuiku in order to counterbalance this trend and advocate a return to supposedly healthier Japanese staple foods such as rice and miso. This campaign also encourages the consumption of regional food products. Based on a qualitative analysis of media representations of the shokuiku campaign such as online content and public advertisements, this presentation argues that a state campaign has developed into a political campaign, which uses pressing health concerns to address national and regional identities expressed through food.