The biggest news story in Japan this week was – and still is – the gyoza (Chinese dumpling) food poisoning scandal:
On Wednesday it was reported that at least 10 people suffered vomiting and diarrhoea after eating dumplings imported from China, which were alleged to have been contaminated with insecticide. By Friday afternoon the Yomiuri Shinbun was reporting that that 511 people nationwide claimed to have been affected.
The manufacturer, Tianyang Food Processing, has been told by the Chinese government to halt production and exports, and recall all of its products. Meanwhile, four officials are to be dispatched to Japan to aid in investigating the matter.
Needless to say, the media frenzy surrounding the incident has led to the general public steering clear of imported Chinese food. Scandals such as this tend to rear their head at least three times a year here; in July last year a vendor in Beijing was found to be selling dumplings stuffed with shredded cardboard (link). There was absolutely no link between this incident and food that had been exported to Japan, but still, it was enough.
In other countries, a minor food-poisoning scare would seem an unlikely cause for a major diplomatic spat, but it appears that politicians are having a field day:
Japanese Chief Cabinet Minister Nobutaka Machimura said on Friday he thought Beijing was taking the incident seriously.
“China’s response has been very speedy. It’s stopped production and started inspections,” Machimura told a news conference.
Experts are also calling for careful handling of the issue so as not to harm ties between the two countries.
More from the China Daily: “Officials to visit Japan over food poisoning“.