Hog Cholera raises concern in Okinawa where “pork is culture”

Hog Cholera raises concern in Okinawa where “pork is culture”

Workers in hazmat suits work in a hog pen to combat hog cholera in Uruma City, around 4 p.m. on January 8.

January 9, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

Pork dishes are indispensable to Okinawan cuisine—Okinawa soba, san-mai niku (braised pork belly), tebichi (stewed pork feet), soki-jiru (pork spare ribs soup) and mimiga (crunchy pig’s ear), to name a few.

The news of Classical Swine Fever (CSF), or hog cholera, emerging on the island for the first time in 34 years shocked many Okinawan consumers: “Pork is Okinawan culture,” “I’m hesitant to eat pork,” and “It must’ve been a lot of work raising the hogs.”

Many expressed uncertainty and concern, while others sympathized with the farmers.

A Nago City grocery store patron, Yoshimi Shimabukuro, 60, is worried: “I’m hesitant to eat [pork].

There’s an Agu (rare traditional Ryukyuan pork breed) farm near my work. I hope [the hog cholera] doesn’t spread.”

Uruma City resident Takashi Kuwae, 70, learned the news in the papers. “[Pork] is Okinawan culture.”

He added with a gloomy expression, “I’m concerned [the disease] will impact Okinawa’s livestock industry.

The prefecture needs to be swift, and prevent [it] from spreading throughout Okinawa.”

Tomiko Nakamoto, 75, taking a stroll through downtown Naha City, exclaimed “Asha-yo” (“Oh dear” in Okinawan) when she learned the news. “I use [pork] in everything—vegetable stir fry, soba.

Many Okinawan dishes use pork meat. I hope [the disease] doesn’t spread.”

Yoshitaka Ishikawa, 65, neighborhood association president of Maeda, Urasoe City, where the Okinawa Urban monorail was extended last October, said, “Pork meat is at the center of Okinawa’s food culture.

I’m worried about damaging public image among tourists. The [disease] needs to be dealt with calmly, to ward off harmful misinformation.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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