Saturday, October 14, 2006


Badly-clad despots and the truth about Japan's shellfish imports

Naturally enough, this week's hot topic in Japan is the nuclear-testing tomfoolery of neighbouring North Korea. My Japanese teacher was wailing about it last night. I pointed out that all this talk of nuclear tests was simply a plea for attention from the world's most drably-dressed dictator.

ME: Why does he always wear such dowdy clothes? African dictators are always so well dressed.

SHE: Hmmm...

I was delighted with this nugget of wisdom received on gmail from Andrew (late of these shores):

Japan bans North Korean imports. Tonight, millions of Japanese children will go without their bark and dirt soup. Stop the madness.

Good point, I thought, just what the hell does Japan actually get from North Korea. I did a quick web search and found the answer on

...The government also required dealers to specify the origin of imported clams.

North Korean clams accounted for a large market share in Japan.

Other imports listed were crabs, sea urchins, mushrooms and, until last summer, smokeless coal.

How many did you guess?

5: North Korean farmer

3-4: Sound knowledge of Asian trade affairs

1-2: Useful in a pub quiz

0: Japanese person

don't forget about Irish Jack dress slacks. They came from North Korea along with his breakfast.
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