Remnant of the U.S. occupation? Half of imported margarine goes to Okinawa

January 27, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 25, the Okinawa Regional Customs announced its numbers regarding Okinawa’s imports and exports for 2016 in which Okinawa had the highest shares across the nation. In total, five tons of turmeric worth 31 million yen was exported from Okinawa. This means that, 88.6 percent by quantity and 90.7 percent by value of all exported turmeric in Japan is from Okinawa. Meanwhile, about half of all domestically imported margarine and dressing is imported to Okinawa. This reflects peoples’ preference for the taste of foods that are high in fats, which is a remnant of the U.S. occupation.

The statistics were based on items that were imported and exported between January and November of 2016. Okinawa’s shares in imports and exports for Japan, as a whole, accounted for 0.28 percent for imports and 0.04 percent for exports. The Regional Customs put together a list of items in which Okinawa imported or exported the most.

In total, four tons of ornamental fish worth 13 million yen were exported. Of Japan’s overall shares, this accounted for 49.6 percent by quantity and 19.8 percent by value. The fish were primarily exported to Russia and Hong Kong in which they are displayed at hotels and/or aquariums.

Of Japan’s overall shares, margarine and dressing stand out as the most imported items for Okinawa. In total, 162 tons of margarine worth 43 million were imported. Of Japan’s overall shares, this accounted for 56.5 percent by quantity and 61.4 percent by value. In either case, more than half of all imports went to Okinawa.

As for dressing, 291 tons worth 55 million yen were imported. Of Japan’s overall shares, this accounted for 62 percent by quantity and 40 percent by value. In either case, the percentage is rather high. Regarding this, the Okinawa Regional Customs raised the possibility that Okinawans’ taste has changed. A representative said “Around 1996, Okinawa was (importing) most of the margarine. In the past, Okinawa had also (imported) around 90 percent of (all imported) dressing. But in either case, the shares have decreased.”

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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