Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 12:11 UK

Japanese eat more meat than fish

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

Plate of sushi
Sushi is still popular worldwide, but the Japanese now prefer meat

The Japanese are eating more meat than seafood, according to a new report from the government.

Figures show that in 2006, for the first time, the Japanese preferred meat over sushi. And in 2007 their appetite for meat increased even further.

The study said that changing lifestyles were responsible, with parents finding meat dishes quicker to prepare.

The government suggests supermarkets hold fish cookery demonstrations to help protect the seafood industry.

Despite these recent trends, people in Japan still eat more fish than those in any other major industrialised nation. But fish eating has been declining across all generations for the last decade.

The study, by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said one factor was that children increasingly eat separately from their families because they stay on after school for exam-cramming classes.

The decline in Japan comes as global seafood consumption is increasing.

The worldwide popularity of Japanese sushi and sashimi is helping to push stocks of the most prized fish, bluefin tuna, to dangerously low levels.

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