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Modern Japanese Fisheries and the Global Seafood Market  

William M. Tsutsui

Japan was the world’s largest fishing nation from the 1930s through the 1980s, is historically among the globe’s most voracious consumers of seafood, and has long been a central player in the international marine products trade, both as a leading exporter and as a major importer. Despite a number of popular and scholarly misconceptions about seafood production, consumption, and trade in modern Japan—that fish has always been a major part of the Japanese diet, that the Japanese state has promoted fisheries primarily out of a concern for food security, that the story of Japanese fishing is limited to the harvest of bluefin tuna and whales, and that the globalization of seafood markets is a relatively new phenomenon—the history of Japan’s modern fisheries reveals how the industrialization of the oceans, the globalization of seafood production and distribution, and the degradation of marine environments have progressed with inexorable efficiency, speed, and thoroughness over the 20th century.