I’ve Never Seen a Fat Japanese Person
… and that goes for cinema and anime alike.
For some reason, though, Japan thinks it’s getting a little chubby around the waist, so they’ve enacted some reforms. By law, Japanese citizens must now stay at a healthy weight.
Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.
Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.
To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years and 25 percent over the next seven years, the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. The country’s Ministry of Health argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check.
Not that it’s easy to litigate rules on health.
Summoned by the city of Amagasaki one recent morning, Minoru Nogiri, 45, a flower shop owner, found himself lining up to have his waistline measured. With no visible paunch, he seemed to run little risk of being classified as overweight, or metabo, the preferred word in Japan these days.
But because the new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches, he had anxiously measured himself at home a couple of days earlier. “I’m on the border,” he said. …
When his turn came, Mr. Nogiri, the flower shop owner, entered a booth where he bared his midriff, exposing a flat stomach with barely discernible love handles. A nurse wrapped a tape measure around his waist across his belly button: 33.6 inches, or 0.1 inch over the limit.
“Strikeout,” he said, defeat spreading across his face.
Given the consistently high concern over childhood obesity here in the United States, I can’t help but wonder whether or not this would work over here, even on a smaller scale.
Not that it would ever pass, or should, but as they say in the movies, “It’s just crazy enough to make half of the population hate the government.”