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Japan losing diplomatic banquet battle to China

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There are some cases where the contents of meals are so poor that holding a reception just has no meaning,” he told AFP.

Which says a lot about the quality of the people who are hosting the receptions. The food shouldn't be the "main" attraction anyway, it's the people and the purpose that should be the headline.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

How could this happen!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I wonder if they have any idea how pathetic they sound. Yes, we realise that politicians and bureaucrats are essentially in it to feather their own nests. Yes we get that greed and personal gain are their overwhelming concerns; making those concerns public to the tax payer who must foot the bill for these leech's fat-cat lifestyle is galling to say the least. Let them have cup noodles and get on with their overpaid missions of improved diplomacy. Next actual problem please!~

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Unfortunately, a lot of diplomats do care about silly stuff like this. What's the difference between diplomatic events and Olympic junkets in search of the next venue? Diplomatic events don't have cute mascots greeting you in the foyer ...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

that's ok, You can gather couple of right wingers with loud speakers to the dinner. That'll wake all your guests up!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

invitees

What's wrong with calling them guests? Why make a legal issue out of it? And how did they know beforehand that they wouldn't be getting the famous shrimp tempura - is the menu printed on the invitation?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Allowances for embassy bashes have dropped 40% over the last decade"

Good. Let them drop more.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Catering by Lawson.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This is one of the results of Abenomics. When the yen is reduced in value, budgets at Embassies are effectively reduced as they are in yen whereas purchase are in another currency.

I do wonder if the standard has gone down so far or if this is just a story put around by the bureaucracy to increase their budget.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I still prefer Japan over China even if I don't get to eat shrimp tempura.

But upon saying that, good personality, charm, being interesting and intellectually stimulating used to be more important than just the food when it came to diplomacy in the good old days.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Next reception at the kaitensushi! ;)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What BS...this is just about overpaid, over pampered diplomatic fat cats whining about not having the best. I have a suggestion - let all the diplomats who get free housing, cars, domestics..etc on their overseas missions in addition to their huge salaries for doing crap all contribute a few % of their pay towards catering budgets. That would stop the whining real quick. Princes...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Is there any way I can get invited to one of those "lavish Chinese receptions"? I've always wanted to try raw monkey brains...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Aww poor souls, my heart bleeds for them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Never mined they can try the new 'premium' burger at Mcdonalds.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

If Japan is really worried about its diplomatic standing in the world, instead of worrying so much about the quality of canapes, perhaps the Foreign Ministry can instruct its diplomats to refrain from telling other diplomats to "shut up" and suggest that its cities' mayors don't dismiss wartime sexual slavery as being necessary to relieve the stress of soldiers. Just an idea though ....

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The quality of food or wine does not dictate the quality of diplomacy,” the official told Jiji Press.

So wearing a clowns costume for a diplomatic reception, has no detrimental affect on relations?

There is no point looking your best, if your serving Mc Donalds to your diplomatic guests.

Everything in diplomacy is a facade. If one cannot convey good will from a good dose of cognac, where words fail, then what else can you do?

This so called senior official, probably has never even attended a international event, let alone a diplomatic party.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

... so their complaint is that reduced budgets mean that they can't import all the top delicacies from Japan to their local embassy (probably couriered in at huge expense by diplomatic bag)?

Their problem here isn't budget, it is simply a complete lack of skill at event planning. A lot of delicious Japanese-style and Japanese-inspired dishes can be made from local ingredients for a fraction of the cost of flying ingredients from Japan half way around the world. If they stopped focusing on importing hugely expensive Japanese ingredients and simply hired an excellent chef and told him "Make do with local ingreidents" they'd actually save a fortune.

This is probably what the Chinese embassies are doing. The Chinese have always been good about using local food to create delicious flavours.

So here's the message Japan. Mottainai! Stop being so wasteful and your budget will stretch further!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Not knowing the internal details, I would refrain from making definitive comments on whether the Japanese embassy is efficient in using its money relative to others.

Nevertheless, the "whiners" do have a point here. A lot of diplomacy is about protocol, promposity, symbolism and pure BS. In such a circumstance, being able to serve top quality food may indeed be the determining factor, and shouldn't be scrimped.

This is probably what the Chinese embassies are doing. The Chinese have always been good about using local food to create delicious flavours.

So Chinese embassies are more efficient? Could be, but it doesn't explain the in-article observation they are getting more elaborate. Since it is doubtful efficiency increased that much over the years, they are probably spending more too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good post Jaymann.

News flash: the Japan bubble has burst.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

"Foreign guests invited to mark occasions such as the emperor’s birthday have noted the second-rate sake and substandard snacks, Kishida said." Well, I'll go out and get a third job---I need to in order to provide for my family--and donate that paltry salary to your parties. Feel better?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Huh! You should see the government premises here in Japan, never-mind overseas! Old, dark (lights off), musky-smelling dirty places with ancient technology. Visiting many government buildings (not all of them mind) is like going back in time.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Chinese missions appear to be hosting ever-more lavish receptions"

Suits to them!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This does sound like a bit of a problem, if diplomacy and trade are anything like business, a large portion of it would be conducted over drinks, etc.

This could explain why China is so dominant in African markets.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You're not a food reporter, so go there and do your stupid job! Big babies complaining about food, grow up!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Oh, isn't that too bad. Now the freeloaders will have to go the Chinese embassy and dine on monkey paws and meat from endangered species.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And Japan still gives BILLIONS of $$$$$$$ in aid to China???????? WTF ?? ?????

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Why are you laughing? Shut up! Shut up!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The food at these events is supposed to be the representative cuisine of the country, but in most parts of the world it's tough to find authentic Japanese ingredients so the stuff is imported from Japan, adding to the cost. With Chinese food on the other hand...any old stir fry will suffice for the foreign palate - read up on the origins of "chop suey" for a classic example.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This food stinks woof-woof ! No alcohol woof-woof. No tempura woof-woof. "Every dog has its day"

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If the people who come complain about the food at a reception, show them the door. The last thing I want to see is Japanese missions receive more money from the government to wine and dine only because the Chinese government seems to be surpassing them at dinner parties. The money is much needed elsewhere, so if that means 'sub-standard' fare in comparison with China, so be it. Just remind the whiners that China is screwing over its people in order to entertain, while Japan is scrimping in order to, hopefully, put money into more important needs.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@smithinjapan The problem is that they don't complain about the food. Once they know you are a skimpy host, they just stop coming.

It is true that in a perfect world, the money can be better spent elsewhere. But it isn't, and pretending otherwise just hurts yourself to little gain. China understands that. Let's see if Japan can too.

There has to be a public works program or agricultural subsidy or SOMETHING we can cut instead. Diplomacy determines the success or failure of national strategy. Trying to skimp on it and expect results is irresponsible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many posters have never worked as diplomatic posts. They have never struggle with hunger and famine before. Therefore they assume that food is not important for diplomacy. In the real world food can change the people mind and business deals.

Imagine African official who is thinking about rewarding engineering contract to Japan and China. After eating Beijing Roast Duck with tasty spring rolls he prefer to reward the contract to China even Japanese engineering is superior. The problem for him is Japanese Sushi and Miso soup are tasteless. Tampura and Sukiyaki are preferable. .

African is the hungriest part of the world. They do not concern about the consequence of the future outcome. They concern about their hungry stomach food. In this world, French and Chinese are champions for entertaining their guest with fine dining. No wonder they are charming for hungry diplomat world. Food can by love and friends.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Working level diplomats from developed democratic countries have a prestigious occupation no doubt, but anyone who thinks they are living high on the hog is carrying an image from a bygone era. They are most certainly not the 1%.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For many cultures - hungry or not - fine dining speaks much more than endless speeches and big mouth jokes. The intimacy of sharing refined food is an invaluable base for efficient official diplomacy. Cutting in this budget sounds to me like a bad saving.

There are most likely much more fake expenses (e.g. abusive entertainment in night clubs) that would need to be scrutinized. But this is another topic related to code of conduct.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This article is going for sensation. The reduction in budget is causing consulates to cut back on cultural events, and a whole host of other activities that help people abroad develop an appreciation of Japan. Japanese consulates are being cut. Japanese language classes are being being phased out while Chinese classes and events are becoming more frequent. An Asian Studies department at an American university these days is more likely headed by a Chinese professor than a Japanese professor. There is a battle going on for hearts and minds -- make no mistake about it. "Shrimp tempura" is a lot cheaper than stepped up patrols in the Pacific and probably more effective in swaying world opinion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Quality of banquet reflects on the hosting mission and thereby the country it represent.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Receptions are EXTREMELY importantly in the world of BUSINESS and DIPLOMACY.

I often relate the two to be quite similar since both deals with the projection of power and perception to gain an upper hand for your side.

If you present yourself in a way that is below your own standard, nevermind the industry or internationally acceptable standard, then you've already lost the game.

Diplomacy often times begins with perception. You simply cannot skimp on that especially with Japan being the 3rd or 4th most economically powerful nation on earth. And more importantly, with all the hoopla developed this year about more cooperation with Africa, skimping on food in receptions to bolster your foreign tides is just bad taste and poor strategic planning.

Simply put, Japan does not have an adequate worldview on how to conduct itself in the international platform. You guys better learn from this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

But then again knowing China's method of wrapping gold leaf on a c**p cake to make the quality seem better than it actually is should be well known on the global scale. It may impress some for a while but when reality sinks in other diplomats will learn not to be easily swayed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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