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Japan

New Year rice cakes: two dead in Japan, seven critical after choking on sticky ‘mochi’ treats

Every January, the annual mochi death toll is a top story on Japanese news programmes as dozens of people are admitted to hospitals across the country after choking on the glutinous delicacy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2018, 10:25am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2018, 1:47pm

Fifteen people were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Tokyo on Monday after choking on “mochi” sticky rice cakes, a traditional New Year dish, with two of them later pronounced dead.

According to the Tokyo Fire Department, the two people who died were a man in his 50s and another in his 80s.

Seven other people were in critical condition when they were taken to hospital.

Every January, the annual mochi death toll is a top story on Japanese news programmes as dozens of people are admitted to hospitals across the country after choking on the glutinous delicacy.

The fire service called for the public to exercise caution in preparing and eating the traditional treat.

It recommended that rice cakes be cut into small pieces and that time be spent chewing before swallowing.

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In 2016, Japanese authorities posted on the internet illustrated advice on what to do should someone start to choke, with a vigorous slap on the back while supporting the chin a suggested remedy.

Another piece of advice was for households to have a vacuum cleaner close at hand when anyone was eating mochi and, at the first hint that a reveller was choking, to force the nozzle of the vacuum into his or her mouth to suck the offending mochi out.