Japanese cuisine was nominated to enter the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in October, and now it is official: “washoku”, or traditional food and way of eating in Japan, has been added to the UNESCO list.
The proposal from the Japanese government was approved by the panel on Wednesday at their Intergovernmental Committee meeting in Azerbaijan, according to the cultural affairs agency.
Japan’s officials hope that including Japanese food in the UNESCO cultural heritage list might help reduce the country’s public image problem when it comes to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“We will make efforts to win understanding for various foods, including fish caught by people in Fukushima Prefecture, who have been suffering from baseless rumors” as a result of the nuclear crisis, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in November.
The government is also hoping to revive the interest of the younger generation when it comes to learning the traditional dietary cultures that should be passed on to them, even as globalization and changes in economic and social structures come to play.
“We would like to continue passing on Japanese food culture to the generations to come … and would also like to work harder to let people overseas appreciate the benefits of washoku,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
UNESCO has registered four food cultures as heritage – French, Mexican, Mediterranean and Turkish.