State Chefs needed for diplomatic offices of Japan around the world

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In the words of Foreign Minister Taro Kono during a speech before the legislature of Japan last January, “Washoku is becoming a powerful diplomatic tool for Japan. In many countries, presidents and prime ministers willingly visit our diplomatic residences, making it important to retain excellent chefs at those venues.”


What is washoku? Well, in 2013 it was inscribed as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Washoku, as defined by UNESCO, is a social practice or a way of life with regard to the skills, knowledge, practice and traditions in relation to the production, processing, preparation and consumption of food. It pertains to the dietary customs of Japan passed down from generation to generation all of which are associated with drawing out the natural flavors of each ingredient with the end goal of preparing a well-balanced, happy, and healthy meal. It is not only focused on the ingredients, however, as the aesthetics likewise play a very important part.


This practice is highly sought after all over the world such that – based on a report by a panel of advisers in the Foreign Ministry – Japanese diplomatic establishments are expected to “serve the best Japanese cuisine.”


However, the panel’s report noted that the wages and benefits for state chefs are “not necessarily attractive in comparison with that of skilful washoku chefs working in Japan or in Japanese restaurants overseas,” with a monthly average of ¥ 300,000.00 shared between the government and the heads of diplomatic outposts.


As a consequence, registration for state chef positions have seen a constant decline over the past few years from 100 a year to just 82 registrants in 2016 and only 51 applicants for the fiscal year 2017.


Reports indicate that based on the fiscal 2019 budget, the ministry intends to increase the subsidy for state chefs by ¥ 30,000.00 depending on the skills of the applicant.



Tokyo looking for chefs willing to forgo washoku profits for diplomatic outposts

Washoku, traditional dietary cultures of the Japanese, notably for the celebration of New Year

What is Washoku?

A Guide to Washoku (Traditional Japanese Food)


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