The headline for the Yomiuri scoop, page one top of course, reads: Tianyang Chinese Dumpling: Poisoning in China (天洋餃子 中国で中毒).
A brief reminder:
Tianyang Foods is the Chinese food processing company whose gyoza (Japanese word for chaozu, the Chinese dumplings that resemble overweight raviolis) imported to Japan by JT—motto: It may be detrimental to your health…—turned out to be contaminated with methamidophos, a chemical so deadly that it has never been allowed to be used in Japan as a pesticide, agricultural or otherwise. China itself had banned it since 2007 January 1. This January, 10 people in Japan became ill, one of them falling into a temporary coma, after eating the dumplings. The Chinese authorities were highly defensive, insinuating that the contamination had occurred in Japan. After a flurry of widely reported pronouncements, the matter had subsided—not without wreaking havoc on Chinese exports of agricultural and products and processed food to Japan—until now. My thoughts on the matter at the time remain the same, but this new twist in the events is worth noting for its own sake.
The salient facts:
In early July, just before the Hokkaido G8 Summit, the Chinese authorities had informed Japan through diplomatic routes that some of the dumplings that Tianyang had recalled were later consumed in China, causing symptoms of methamidophos poisoning.
The August 6 hardcopy Yomiuri cites August 5 revelations from 関係筋 (related sources) ”.
The rest of the major dailies follow suit on their websites (and late morning? and evening editions), claiming: Asahi—it became known on the 6th through administration sources (６日、政府関係者の話で分かった); Mainichi—it became known (わかった); Nikkei—it became known on the 6th (6日、分かった); and Sankei—multiple related sources revealed on the 6th (複数の関係筋が６日、明らかにした).
Asahi, the last one to come online at 11:14AM, is the only one to give a reason for the delay in disclosure. “High government officials (政府高官)” told Asahi that was still under investigation in China. Nikkei files the report from Beijing and later in the article cites “diplomatic sources (外交筋)”.
The Beijing Olympics begin in just two days, on August 8.
Now, some comments:
In a conversation the other day with the proprietor of Shisaku, we agreed that the journalese phrase “it became known on date x (X日にわかった)” is more often than not “we wuz scooped” in journalese.
Of all the scoopees, the usually anti-government Asashi is the only one that bothered to wait for the authorities’ explanation before posting the news.
Did I already mention that the Beijing Olympics begin in just two days?*
* Technically, the games start today, when the female soccer teams play the first games in their group league stage. Go, Nadeshiko! Kick Kiwi ass! Soccer begins before the August 8 opening ceremonies because soccer players need more time than other athletes—except marathon and other long-distance runners—to recover between events, or games.