More University cafeterias in Japan are providing halal cuisine to be able to cater for the needs of Muslim students.
Halal is an Arabic word meaning “permissible” mostly associated with foods. Halal food preparation needs to satisfy Islamic guidelines. Meat and poultry must be slaughtered making use of a unique technique called zabiha, however pork and alcohol are strictly forbidden.
The organisation that provides food for cafeterias and canteens in university campuses and other facilities within the Kanto area is the Tokyo Business Association of University Cooperatives. They recently launched halal seasoning for washoku, It translates as “Japanese cuisine”, and has recently been included on the menu for university cafeterias. They have been supplying a wider variety of recipes for Muslim students. The new measures have been welcomed by Universities, believing they assist the Japanese efforts in attracting more Muslim students.
The National Federation of University Cooperative Associations suggests that at least 19 universities including the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Hokkaido University and Kyushu University offer halal cuisines at their cafeterias at present.
The majority of these universities canteens are within national universities. However private institutions and colleges in rural locations have began copying their example. For instance, Waseda University, Keio University, Saitama University as well as the University of Yamanashi started out offering halal cuisines during the last academic year.
The University of Tokyo was host to a food tasting event on the 26th of May, that included zarusoba noodles and stewed udon with fried chicken. The mouth-watering recipes were part of a new halal menu at the university cafeteria.
The event also featured Noodles that were served with an alcohol-free, soy sauce-based broth produced by the Tokyo Business Association of University Cooperatives, to which the cooperative of University of Tokyo also belongs.
Tanzilur Rahmana, a 28-year-old Bangladeshi graduate school student said:
“Thanks to this broth, I can enjoy soba and udon without worrying”.
Out of the 3,000 international students at the University of Tokyo, around 250 come from Muslim countries. The University cooperative started t full-scale production of halal food in 2009, listening to the concerns from university faculty in charge of international students. But students were only limited to dishes such as stewed chicken with tomato and curry. Washoku cuisines were not on the menu as mirin, or sweet rice wine, and most types of soy sauce produced in the country contain alcohol.
Muslim students expressed the desire to eat washoku cuisine, last year. The Tokyo Business Association of University Cooperatives then responded by asking a manufacturer from Thailand to develop special halal seasonings for washoku. The cafeteria plans to introduce a wider variety of halal cuisines in the near future.
An official of the University of Tokyo’s International Center said: “We’re better able to support the diet of students from abroad”.
As well as the University Tokyo, cafeterias at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the University of Electro-Communications intend to provide halal udon and soba to Muslim students after July. A halal-certified cafeteria was also launched at the campus of Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, offering Asian food.
An education ministry official said , “Halal food will be a plus in attracting more students from abroad”.
The government intends to substantially increase the number of foreign students to 300,000 in 2020. As of May last year, Muslim students only totalled around 7,000, even though there were about 135,500 foreign students in the country.