|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Feckless fishmonger faces flak for foisting fatal fugu on famished foreign female 2008,02,25
Shincho 2/14 By Ryann Connell
Criminal charges hanging over a fishmonger for selling deadly puffer fish to a foreign woman who died after eating it are not worthy of sympathy, but instead are his just desserts, anglers tell Shukan Shincho (2/14).
Feudal era warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued the first ban in Japanese history on eating fugu puffer fish over 400 years ago after dozens of his soldiers preparing to take part in his ill-fated invasion of Korea died after eating it, and it's common knowledge among Japanese that the delicacy should only be eaten after careful preparation to remove its poisonous innards.
So it would seem natural to have some sympathy for the chairman of Morita Suisan, the fishmonger from Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, now facing criminal charges for selling puffer fish to a Thai woman who boiled it whole and ate it, suffering a week of agony before she died as a result of the puffer fish's poison flowing through her body.
But that doesn't seem to be the case.
"It's illegal to sell fugu to anybody who doesn't have a special license to prepare it. But Morita Suisan has apparently been selling puffer fish to anyone and everyone," a reporter from a national daily tells Shukan Shincho.
"And Morita Suisan didn't have any employees licensed to cook fugu, either. They've been selling whole fugu without a second thought for more than 20 years."
In defense of Morita Suisan, it's common knowledge that the fugu is dangerous.
Even the 45-year-old Thai woman who died questioned the seller about a lack of a license before she bought it.
The fishmonger reassured her, saying that she'd be safe as long as she removed the scales before eating it.
Normally, scaling a fugu also involves taking out its toxic organs.
What the fishmonger didn't realize was that the woman would take the scales off the fish, but keep its insides intact as she used the fugu to flavor a bowl of Thai-style tom yang kun soup -- with deadly results.
Few Hitachinaka locals, however, are prepared to show sympathy toward the seller, Morita Suisan, for what some may say appears to have been a tragic accident.
"No way," a member of the Hitachinaka fish market tells Shukan Shincho. "Everybody who's heard about this incident says (the charges facing) Morita Suisan are exactly what it deserves.
Everybody hates the chairman of Morita Suisan.
He's horrible to whoever he meets, is a real tightwad and shunned by all and sundry here.
"I remember the local festival here about five or six years ago. There was a group of guys carrying a portable shrine along the road, but they tipped it upside down when they got in front of Morita Suisan as a sign of protest against the company."
The company chairman himself, who the weekly doesn't name, appears unperturbed by what people are saying about him.
"It's a fact that we caused an accident, so I can understand why people are talking about us," he says to the weekly.
"It's a free world, though, so I can't stop them from saying what they like."
Hiroshi Itakura, professor of law at Nihon University, however, has something to say that the chairman may not like.
"People who sell fugu to someone who doesn't know how to prepare it or eat it properly should be aware that doing so could have fatal results," the criminal law expert tells Shukan Shincho.
"There are more than sufficient grounds to prosecute for manslaughter. And a conviction carries a maximum term of 5 years imprisonment." (By Ryann Connell)