Monday, May 15, 2006

Japan faces chopsticks crisis

The Guardian, International p. 18

By Justin McCurry in Tokyo

Millions of Japanese diners could soon be deprived of their favourite wooden chopsticks following China's decision to impose a 5% tax on the utensils because of concerns over deforestation.
The move is already beginning to affect restaurants and caterers in Japan, which gets through 25bn pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks a year - or 200 pairs a person - 97% of which come from China.
Chinese chopstick exporters responded to the tax increase by raising prices by around 30%, with another 20% increase to follow. The price of chopsticks has already risen from one yen a pair to more than one and a half yen, with producers also blaming rising transportation and raw material costs.


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