ABSTRACT

This book began by introducing Japan’s ‘summers of living dangerously’ in 2000

and 2001. Belated recalls of Snow Brand milk, which poisoned over 13,000

people, were followed by revelations of product quality problems afflicting

televisions and automobiles – consumer goods on which Japan has built a world-

wide reputation – and then an outbreak of ‘mad cow disease’. Chapter 1 suggested

that a key issue is how to appraise such events, and the responses by firms,

regulators and others. Has nothing changed in Japan since 1969, when millions of

automobiles were recalled as well, as described in Chapter 2? Or since 1955, when

thousands of infants were poisoned from unknown causes by milk supplied by

Snow Brand, and then over 12,000 (including hundreds of deaths) by Morinaga

milk found to contain arsenic? Or, from that same era, when the interests of big

business and powerful government actors also prevented prompt and effective

reactions to mercury poisoning of fisheries and villagers in Minamata?