Thanks to everyone who sent this in yesterday, and sorry I didn’t get to it sooner.
Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.
Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.
“Further re-education.” I don’t even want to speculate.
To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years and 25 percent over the next seven years, the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. The country’s Ministry of Health argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check.
The ministry also says that curbing widening waistlines will rein in a rapidly aging society’s ballooning health care costs, one of the most serious and politically delicate problems facing Japan today.
I trust I don’t even need to rant about why this is so fucked-up, or point out that yes, it could happen anywhere. I’ll just say this: As much as I feel for fat people in Japan right now, in a sick way, I’m sort of glad one country has actually gone ahead and done this. Because A) the outrage over it might wake people up to how insane it is for the government to try to control people’s bodies, and B) I’d bet everything I have they won’t reach those goals of shrinking the overweight population or reducing health care costs. So maybe 7 years down the road, with that failed effort there for all to see, we can get real about dieting and health.
A girl can dream.
Update: Sweet Machine said this in comments yesterday, and I think it needs to be moved up to the post.
I just want to throw a word of caution into this thread: as we talk about the cultural differences that may affect people’s reaction to this Japanese governmental policy, let’s be careful not to indulge in essentialism or stereotyping of Japanese or other Asian cultures.