Visa requirements for foreign cooks training in washoku, or traditional Japanese cuisine, will be eased as UNESCO is expected to acknowledge Japan’s culinary culture as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Foreign chefs cooking French, Italian or other cuisines at restaurants in Japan are currently permitted to work under resident status, but those who are training in washoku are not, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
A working group of the government’s deregulation panel began discussing the issue on October 21, and should eventually propose to the Justice Ministry that foreign cooks training in Japanese cuisine be granted resident visa status.
The move is expected to help spread the international popularity of Japanese dishes, which are distinguished by their artistic presentation and use of seasonal ingredients.
Since the Fukushima nuclear crisis, exports of Japanese agricultural products have been negatively affected by radiation fears.
Officials applauded the timely designation of Japanese cuisine to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in December ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“It will be of major significance if washoku is globally recognized at a time when Japan is scheduled to host the Olympics,” said Yukio Hattori, president of the Hattori Nutrition College in Tokyo.
The industry ministry is promoting a “Cool Japan” to help spur the nation’s economy by exporting anime, manga, J-pop, video games, fashion and other elements of Japanese culture.
By Maesie Bertumen