(I’ve been informed that it’s not a law to get measured once a year – please scroll this forum to learn more – below is the original article)
So what exactly is this fat tax everyone is talking about from Japan? Is it real? Is it really illegal to be fat in Japan? Well, first off, yes it is real, there is a sort of ‘fat’ tax that is applied for those over a certain BMI/waistline in Japan (85 cm for men and 90 cm for women). But you’ll never see anyone actually arrested for being fat… Fined, absolutely, but not the individual themselves, companies are the ones who take the hit. Japan requires it’s citizens between 40 and 74 years of age to get their BMI/waistlines measured once a year, and if need be seek medical attention and counseling.
The law is actually called (get ready for it):
“Standard Concerning Implementation Special Health Examination
Special Public Health Guidance”
Otherwise known as ‘Metabo’ law, started in 2008 to combat ‘metabolic syndrome” and to curb the country’s overweight population by at least 25% by 2015. So with that said, has it worked? It has actually, it’s dropped the obese rate of Japanese people by 1% since it started. So Japan put out all the stops to help curb any excess fat that they can from society.
But already Japan has a few things going for them that Americans simply don’t. First Japanese people already eat a diet full of fish, vegetables and rice, whereas Americans literally are loading up on ultra-processed foods 50% of the time! Second is that Japanese people by default end up having to walk much more then Americans, and are encouraged to do so. Americans simply for the most part do not have the ability to leave their house and walk into a city as many Americans live on the out skirts of cities.
Then third the Japanese now have the Metabo law to help reinforce and help curb what they consider an epidemic of fatness! Americans, have nothing of the sort, and honestly it would be unconstitutional to do so. Instead America would be best to keep teaching individuals how to eat and what to avoid, because half of their food being eaten is absolutely trash.
So what do the stats looks like for overweight people in Japan, and did they really need to implement this law? Well the answer shouldn’t surprise you, but here are some numbers and a few facts regarding overweight people Japan vs America.
Only 3.6 percent of Japanese people have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 (which I now believe is 3.1 percent), which is the international standard for obesity, whereas 35.7 percent of Americans do. A total of 33.1 percent of Americans have a BMI over 25 (discounting those in the obese category), making them overweight, but only 21.1 percent of Japanese make the grade to be considered overweight (discounting those in the obese category)!
Lets look at this in the raw numbers to see how absolutely insane this really is:
Obese Japanese People: 4,500,000
Obese American People: 101,000,000!
Overweight Japanese People: 31,000,000
Overweight American People: 105,250,000
Total overweight and obese:
Total in Japan: 31,100,000
Total in America: 218,750,000
So I’d say Japan is doing something right when you compare it to America right? But let’s be fair and look at the numbers if they were to have the same amount of people, but let’s look at it if America had as many people as Japan.
Total in Japan: 31,100,000
Total in America (same pop. as Japan): 86,668,000
In this made up chart America would still have over 50,000,000 more people that are overweight. This would also mean that out of the 126,000,000 people only about 45,000,000 would be healthy which is about 1/3 of the population.
Japanese Population: 126,000,000
American Population: 318,000,000 – (Feb 9th 2017)
So as you know the law is not coming to take you to jail if you’re too fat in Japan, they’re not going to come slap handcuffs on you or force you into fat camp. Although you will be required to see a counselor and a dietician to help you curve that hefty waistline, that is if you even show up for your appointment.
So, is that it? You pretty much just get a slap on the wrist and a bit of mandatory counseling? Well, yes and no. The biggest effects from this law stem from companies who employee bigger people. The big punishments are really being felt by the companies of Japan. If they find ANY of their employees are big boned and over the limit they can be fined a fair sum of money until everyone has a come to Jesus meeting and gets a grip and slims down. Companies actually hand out ‘Metabo’ towels that have a measurement stitched into the towel so you can see if you’re gaining weight or if you’re losing it. Otherwise to basically help you remember that if you’re overweight your a burden on the companies well-being.
One fine a company was said to pay was upwards of $19,000,000 dollars! This is why you will see companies doing a set of work outs in the morning before they start work. 30 minutes of stretching they say help keep everyone a bit more fit, and they also found that it keeps their employees more focused on their tasks. But not everything is as it seems, this program that seems to have well intentions (which I agree to a point), doesn’t have everyone’s best interests. Because of this, people that are bigger are shunned and made fun of and verbally abused, and this attitude also leeches into the public and private lives as well, but besides the emotional and societal backlash, did Japan really need to enact this law?
A professor at Tokai college School of Medicine, Yoichi Ogushi said that there really is no need for Japanese people to lose weight. Yoichi Ogushi was noted saying that he does not think it will have any positive long lasting effect. He also said something like the Metabo law would work best in areas like the USA or Australia and other places that actually HAVE a weight problem. At this moment he said the Japanese people are too slender and they can’t afford to lose weight.
But on the other hand the president of the Health Policy Institute of Japan, James Kondo, believes that this law is a positive thing. He claims that the check up every years increases the public’s awareness of the health challenges that come with obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Okay well if you agree with it or not it’s something that Japan is really doing. But there are a few criticisms and flaws of this policy that should be pointed out:
So, there’s that…
But the more I researched this subject the more I ran into a lot of research showing that men, women but mostly girls are taking this to the next level and basically starving themselves. More and more eating disorders are taking place in Japan and Metabo law has certainly not helped curb this growing challenge that is taking place in Japan. There is even stories I’m reading about where children are indoctrinated into believing eating too much can turn you into a pig, and it’s seen as heroic to not eat!
Well, perhaps at one point in Japanese history when food was a scarce thing, these kind of stories came up, and then they just got pass on down from generation to generation. But these children stories are not doing anyone any good. So there could be much more research into how deep this really goes, because as already mentioned, why not tackle childhood obesity too? Well many believe and I tend to also bend towards the idea that big pharmaceutical companies have a play in this role in this Metabo law decision. Japan has the 2nd largest pharmaceutical market in the world.
With that said the profits between 2008 a year before Metabo and 2012 show a drastic increase.
To end this endless rabbit hole of questions and points of view about this Metabo law, there was a question I had about this. What about sumo wrestlers? Are they stuck with the same law as everyone else? And the answer is, YES! They are stuck with having to give up the gut as there time arrives when they turn 40. But it’s also interesting to note that the oldest wrestler to win a top division sumo championship was 37 years of age (Kyokutenho Masaru). So the vast majority of these wrestlers will never have to worry about it. But, I wonder though about those who have to work hard to get themselves below the thresholds of the Metabo law in time, when for most of their lives they’ve been commended for being a big fat wrestler.
Shinrin-Yoku (森林浴) is a Japanese term that translates to “Forest Bathing” in English and involves spending free time wandering in nature. This therapeutic method was developed in the 1980s in Japan, and it was designed to enhance wellbeing, health, and joy. It’s used widely in the country for purposes of preventative healthcare in Japanese medicine.
Recently a friend of mine created a post about Forest Bathing and this is where I first discovered the term “Shinrin Yoku“. The amazing thing is that she has invented a technology that she calls the Harmonic Egg and it’s literally a giant egg you sit inside of. While inside you’re bathed with light and sound, it’s very similar to Forest Bathing. I suggest you look into her work as well after reading through this article.
Different researchers, mainly from South Korea and Japan, have carried out various studies to prove the health benefits of forest bathing. They found out that Shinrin-Yoku helps create a relaxing neuro-psychological effect resulting from the changes in the body’s nervous system. In turn, the body’s stress hormones such as Cortisol and Norepinephrine are minimized, and the immune system boosted.
Every research conducted so far has proved that the human body’s anxiety, anger, depression, stress, and lack of sleep levels were reduced considerably for all participants. A simple 15-minute practice of Shinrin-Yoku reduces pressure and stress levels as well as boosts mental acuity. Today, Japan has 44 accredited forest bathing sites with efforts underway to establish Shinrin-Yoku worldwide.
Additionally, nature has proven time and again to be a powerful catalyst in a patient’s recovery journey. In a study published by Dr. Roger Ulrich, a simple view of nature from your window can aid in minimizing convalescence by 24 hours in contrast to the perspective from an urban setup.
Another study by a psychology professor, David Strayer, from the University of Utah proved that Shinrin-Yoku boosts creativity. The study showed that there was a 50% boost in creative problem-solving skills from all participants after a 3-day forest bathing trial in absence of modern technology.
I have an interesting story that relates to Shinrin Yoku and another Japanese word I learned from our good friend Megumi-san while we were in Japan (my wife and I). We were on our way out to Saga prefecture from Fukuoka and we were going through the mountains, and if you’ve ever been in Japan and through the mountains and valleys you’ll know how absolutely GREEN it can be. I could immediately feel this presence of color therapy at work while we drove through the mountains, and so we were trying to figure out what the word would be that we were feeling in japanese.
Our friend Megumi-san eventually figured out what we were trying to say and she said this word we were looking for is “Chiryoukoka” (治療固化) which means “Cure” or “Therapy”. This very much rings true, what is interesting is that I’m not alone in this feeling (obviously) you can read here about how “Green is Good for You“, which is another Forest Bathing type website.
Another helpful word in Japanese that goes hand in hand with Shinrin Yoku is Komorebi. Komorebi (木漏れ日) is a word that describes when there are rays or light coming through a tree’s leaves creating a dazzling effect and for many creating a positive feeling of wonderment and awe. There is another word that can also sort of describe this and it’s mabushii (まぶしい), which means dazzled or bright although the difference I would say is that one is spiritual 3D description and another is a flat 2D description.
While using the help of a guide can be the best way to start forest bathing, not everyone has access to a professional guide. However, you can still enjoy the benefits of Shinrin-Yoku on your own. To begin your forest bathing therapy, try these simple steps:
As you can see, practicing Shinrin Yoku is simple, and you don’t even need a guide.
Remember to turn off your phone to avoid any interruptions as well as EMFs.
Hiking: Every nature walk has its characteristics, and some may involve a challenging trek for longer distances. However, Shinrin-Yoku is all about plunging yourself in nature in a healing manner.
Naturalist Outing: While forest bathing, we may come across nature’s wonders such as animals, trees, and flowers. However, we do not aim at knowing their characters, names, or medicinal importance.
Medical treatment: Shinrin-Yoku is not meant to replace any physical or mental healthcare diagnosed by professionals. It’s all about spending your time in natural environments regularly to enhance your well-being.
According to a Sacramento Forest Therapy Guide, Rose Lawrence, Shinrin Yoku’s central concept revolves around enhancing a positive connection with nature that helps feel your natural surroundings better, which is one reason perhaps the Shintoism religion has such a heavy influence in Japan, one does not have to have extrasensory skills to notice an affect of nature on the body, mind and spirit. You can also enjoy the overall benefits of forest bathing by following the five simple steps discussed above or you can try out the Harmonic Egg by Gail Lynn.
Japan has some of the most stringent hemp and marijuana laws across the globe. Even though it is a highly advanced democracy, if you are found in possession of hemp and marijuana among other drugs is punishable by law. You could get a 5 years jail if you are found in possession of drugs or if you are found growing marijuana. Almost every year, about 2000 people are charged with sentences for being in possession or for growing the drugs in Japan. This includes locals and foreigners.
Even though hemp and marijuana were highly valued traditional medicine, food and textile corp across Asia, the harsh laws in Japan were formulated to help curb addiction. This also followed heavily restrictions by UN drug treaties and of course after WWII and the newly formed Japanese constitution. Today, more voices are being raised in the country due to the growing interest in medicinal hemp and marijuana. There is an immense call to put an end to harsh drug policies bearing in mind that hemp and marijuana have been proven to be of great medicinal value.
Political leaders including Shinto Kaikaku have been on the front lines advocating for the legalization or at least the lift on the ban on hemp and marijuana in the country. This is an effort to fight for the interest of patients in the country who would benefit from medicinal marijuana and hemp.
With the growing number of people advocating for the adjustment of hemp laws in Japan, the future of this drug used for medicinal purposes could be promising. Japan is a wealthy nation with more than 127 million people including the elderly citizens who need specialized care. The population has become quite aware of the medicinal value of hemp and marijuana and are embracing its use.
Undoubtedly, medicinal marijuana plays a significant role in enhancing cancer treatment. It alleviates chemotherapy effects and to put it to good use, the harsh laws need to be adjusted. Many patients in the country have also voiced their support for the lift on marijuana and hemp ban in Japan.
The tough marijuana laws in Japan have been around for over 70 years as indicated in the Cannabis Control Law, Article 4. You will agree that this is quite a long period bearing in mind that marijuana has been used across different parts of the globe for medicinal purposes. The media has equally been receptive in the past few years on how hemp and Marijuana help to alleviate pain in cancer patients and the treatment of other diseases.
Today, it is quite clear that Japan is embracing the use of Hemp and Marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, you must get a license to grow the plant. Hemp and marijuana laws in Japan were amended in 2018 and this was seen as a major step to a bright’ future for the medicinal use of the drug in the country.
One of the major signs that the legalization of hemp and marijuana could be on the process is the fact that the stringent draconian laws were amended in 2018. In the past, if you were found with hemp or marijuana, you would serve up to 7 years jail term. However, today, the term has been reduced to 5 years. If you are a first time offender, the police often give you a chance or a suspended sentence.
In 2017, a second-time offender 22-year-old man was not jailed because of the idea that a prison or jail term would make him worse. The Japan court system has also been keen on having other ways of dealing with such cases.
Over the years, there have been different political and activist groups advocating for the adjustment of the laws. They focus on educating the citizens of the country on the benefits of Marijuana and Hemp to promote the good side of the drug. This includes increasing the awareness that legalizing marijuana could boost the economy of the country.
Similarly, there seems to be light on the tunnel on industrial hemp. It is an agenda on many drug debates in the country because it has been widely tolerable in the country’s cottage industry. Even so, a license is required as it comes with other legal restrictions.
In a nutshell, hemp and marijuana laws in Japan are still deep-rooted. However, with different leaders and advocates championing for the adjustment on the use of hemp and marijuana for medicinal use, the future of these drugs could be promising. Although Japan has opened their doors to CBD in many different forms now. BUT, it’s got to have 0% THC in it, which opens the market to low quality types of CBD that mostly comes from places like China where most of their soil is dangerous. Marijuana/Hemp plants can literally suck out radiation to heavy metal and other hazardous material from the soil. It’s good to repair the soil, but it’s not good when that plant then is used for CBD medicine.
Currently Nihon Scope is in the middle of creating a business in Japan called Nihon Scope Unlimited to help Japanese people get good clean (LEGAL) QUALITY CBD oil and to inform and educate. A lot of the information we are learning this from is directly from Acme Hemp Labs in Colorado, where they are actually rolling 100% Hemp Cigars with THC levels below 0.3% (which is the legal limit in America under the The Farm Bill of 2018 which was signed by President Trump). It’s pretty amazing how one place in the world has so much freedom but else where people are completely unaware of the benefits and how keeping it hidden and illegal is actually hurting the people of the country by giving the pharmaceutical, big tobacco and the alcohol industries more power to keep their monopolies unhindered.
Although I believe that if they could take a note from Colorado, it not only stimulates the economy and helps people but vice in general will never go anywhere and the impact will be subtle and if they are smart they’ll read the book “Who Moved My Cheese” and just get with the times and change to adopt this growing world wide trend.
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