Japan can get a global picture of a high tech country where extremely disciplined citizens walk the roads just like Yakuza, the dreaded Japanese mafia! But the country is in the news for an interesting reason. Milk!
Japanese politicians urge people to drink milk. Ministers drink glasses of milk at press conferences to get the point across. A big brand hired a celebrity to encourage the consumption of milk and even the prime minister joined the chorus urging the Japanese to take a nourishing sip.
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“We would like the people to cooperate by drinking one more cup of milk than usual and using dairy products for cooking,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday. He was speaking at a press conference held at the end of the parliamentary session.
Kishida is not alone in this milk crusade. On December 17, Japanese Agriculture Minister Genjiro Kaneko and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike drank glasses of milk during their press conferences.
All these efforts are made to avoid a huge waste of milk. Government statistics have been quoted in news reports saying that Japan is planning a massive 5,000 tonnes of milk wasted this winter.
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Japanese farmers have joined forces to prevent this waste. They have made a commitment to buy 1 liter of milk from December 25 to January 3. They draw attention to their efforts via social media using the hashtag # 1Lperday.
The dairy industry and giants have also stepped up. The Lawson Inc convenience store chain is offering a 50 percent discount on a steaming cup of hot milk. They target New Years celebrations and offer the discount on December 31st and January 1st.
Meiji Holdings Company, a giant in the dairy industry has taken a step forward. He roped up Saori Yoshida, an Olympic wrestling champion and leading a campaign to increase milk consumption
The reason behind it all
Japan experiences lower demand for milk at this time of year. Schoolchildren are usually given boxes of milk in Japan. However, with the children at home due to the holiday season all over the country, a huge amount of milk is not used.
On top of that, large retailers are closing temporarily at this time of year.
The Covid pandemic has added another dimension to this. While the hospitality industry is still recovering from the recession, demand for milk is slow in this sector.