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.