Japanese embassy rubbishes ‘fake news’ report of human meat restaurant and legalised cannibalism
Embassy spokesman says story on worldtruth.tv is completely fictitious and may be the result of a piece published in 2016 by a Spanish-language satirical site
The Japanese embassy in Washington has been forced to issue a statement denying online reports that a Tokyo restaurant is serving cuts of human meat to customers.
A spokesman for the embassy dismissed the report on worldtruth.tv, which claims Japan has legalised cannibalism. In an email sent to Associated Press, the official said the story is completely fictitious and suggested the rumours may have been the result of an April Fools’ piece on a Spanish-language satirical website dating back to 2016.
The story claims the first restaurant in the world serving human meat has opened in Tokyo and it is called “Edible Brother”. Prices range from a very reasonable US$121 to nearly US$1,200, although the story provides no information on the meat that is served for those prices.
The site, which has been branded “fake news” by multiple news outlets, claims an unnamed tourist from Argentina was the first to dine at the restaurant and he allegedly described the experience as “like eating pork, with spices masking much of the taste”.
The article claims the Japanese government changed the law in 2014 to permit the consumption of human flesh as long as the restaurant was able to verify the origin of the meat and that sanitation levels were met in the preparation of the food.
The story goes on to claim that the restaurant’s supplies of meat are from volunteers whose relatives receive US$36,537 in the transaction. The story claims that poor people are particularly tempted by the transaction because it can help their families pay off their debts.
The volunteers must be young, the article adds, and are required to go on a special diet until they are slaughtered to ensure that the meat is in prime condition.
The story has remained on the worldtruth.tv despite being debunked by a number of media organisations.
Fact-checking website snopes.com gave the story a “fake news” tag. The Financial Times last year cited another story published on wordtruth.tv as “fake news”.
Alex Kwa, a Singaporean designer and food lover who lives in Tokyo, similarly discredited the cannibalism story on his blog by pointing out that if a human meat restaurant opened in Japan it would have triggered a media frenzy and public outrage.
“That is the sad state with irresponsible media allowing or spreading fake news,” Kwa concluded. “Be sure to exercise your own judgment before blindly following or sharing news.”