Bad Journalism

I came across this gem of an article entitled Japanese Families’ nutritional values pay dearly for ‘progress’  in the Japan Times, via Surviving Japan blogger Ashley’s twitter feed (@survivingjapan). Can I just say that such a piece of sexist and one-sided drivel is published in a national paper as News?


Roger Pulvers argues, in essence, that Japanese kids are getting fat, and it is the fault of their lazy mothers who would rather read celebrity gossip on the internet than cook food for their kids. These lazy mothers, reports Pulvers, buy dinner at 7/11 and Lawsons, and nary a stray vegetable crosses the threshold resulting in Japanese kids becoming spoiled, constipated little fatsos.  


Pulvers draws his ridiculous conclusions from an obviously inflammatory book published in Japanese called It’s My Kitchen and I’ll Do What I like in It. The author, Nobuko Iwamura, interviewed hundreds of women and photographed their cooking for one week. The results, according to Pulvers, were gut-wrenching, and indicative of a “national emergency graver than the ones potentially posed by North Korean Missiles, Chinese submarines, and Australian whaling ships!” [emphasis mine] What???????


Pulvers places the blame for this “national crisis” squarely on the shoulders of women. Lazy mothers who would rather “get by” with minimal effort than feed their kids healthful dinners. 


This is absurd. Sure there are fat Japanese kids. And I imagine that it is true that people are eating fewer fresh vegetables and fruits, but to call this a National crisis graver than the threat posed by Korean missiles, is just stupid and alarmist. And to blame a poor national diet on lazy women is just misogyny, pure and simple. 


Has he never stopped to consider the factors that might drive people to rely on convenience foods? Price, for one, is a driver. A bag of two carrots costs over one dollar in my local  Japanese supermarket. Compare that to a five-pound bag of carrots costing a couple bucks in America. Also, the time burden imposed on women, and mothers in particular, is almost insupportable. Mothers spend almost all of their time caring for the family: ferrying kids to school and back; daily trips to the supermarket; innumerable special days at school that require their attendance; mandatory participation in the PTA and neighborhood community groups. All of this, plus the day-to-day tasks that are part of keeping a house running. And fathers are no help - they’re off to work early in the morning, and don’t return till late in the evening, and wouldn’t lift a finger if they had time, anyway. These demands conspire to keep mothers out of the workforce and time-poor. It’s no wonder that they are increasingly relying on dinners chez 7/11.


In conclusion, Pulvers is a douche, and this article is a sexist piece of crap. The end.