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Japan Chefs Plan to Offer Halal Meals in Olympics 2020

TOKYO – As Japan prepares to host Tokyo Olympics 2020, its chefs are working to accommodate the dietary customs of a diverse range of visitors, including Muslims who consume only halal food.

“True omotenashi hospitality is to provide a wide range of options,” said Tomohiro Sakuma, representative director of the Japan Halal Business Association, a Tokyo-based incorporated association that helps companies develop and export products suited to Muslims, The Japan News reported on Tuesday, November 13.

“The Olympics will serve as an opportunity to understand not only Muslim cooking, but also the broader diversity of cuisine,” he said. “Japanese chefs will have the chance to showcase their real abilities, as they pay close attention to details and possess high-level skills.”

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will take place from 24 July to 9 August. More than 50 Muslim countries will participate in the event in addition to hundreds of Muslim athletes from other nations as well.

Along with mobile mosques, Japan is also working to provide halal dietary to its visitors and athletes.

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Kazuyoshi Aoki, a senior chef at a lodging facility in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, is one of those working to develop recipes for halal dishes.

“As the dish has a strong flavor, I hope that Muslims will also enjoy it,” Aoki said, referring to his dish of fish seasoned with a halal soy sauce.

Preparations included a workshop last September organized by nationwide federation of chefs in Shizuoka on how to prepare halal cuisine.

“It is important to first acquire knowledge,” said Daisuke Murota, who runs a Japanese restaurant in Osakasaid.

“Using such knowledge, I hope you’ll study [how to prepare] washoku dishes that your customers can appreciate by utilizing your own expertise and experience.”

The earliest Muslim records of Japan can be found in the works of the Muslim cartographer Ibn Khordadbeh. Recently, the Pew Research Center estimated in 2010 that there were 185,000 Muslims in Japan.

Japan is a new but sharply growing halal market as the country’s producers are seeking fresh opportunity in the halal sector and striving to seek new local and international markets, especially now that Japan is the officially designated venue for the 2020 Olympics, attracting Muslim athletes and tourists from all around the world.

The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.

Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.

Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.

Halal food is consumed not only by 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, but also by at least 500 million non-Muslims in the $2 billion global industry.