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Lust for leftovers: 90% in Japan poll want to take restaurant food home -- but only 20% do

This file photo taken on Feb. 3, 2019 shows a mound of bread and other food being disposed of in the city of Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. (Mainichi/Rei Kubo)

TOKYO -- Less than 20% of people surveyed in Japan bring leftovers home from restaurants, despite some 90% of respondents voicing approval for the practice, according to the results of an investigation by the Consumer Affairs Agency released on Jan. 21.

Currently, relevant ministries and an advisory committee of experts are discussing plans for the government's basic policy on food waste. Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety Seiichi Eto indicated he wants to change thinking on the issue, and improve the day-to-day environment in such a way that people feel free to take food home.

The questions were among a monthly goods prices monitor organized by the agency, which was carried out from Jan. 9 to 13 and responded to by 1,316 people. Its results showed that a total of 89.8% of those surveyed selected one of two options: either "support" or "somewhat support" taking leftovers home when they eat out. However, only 18.7% replied that they have actually taken leftovers in the last year.

In response to a question asking in what situations people do decide to take food home, many selected: "There is a sign in the restaurant saying 'You can take leftovers home,'" and, "If the business has containers prepared for taking away food."

On the other hand, of those who answered "I have never taken away food, but wanted to," or, "I didn't want to take food back home," 31.3% said they hadn't done it because "I wasn't sure whether the restaurant allowed it" and 29.9% opted for "I didn't think it was a commonly done thing to take food home."

(Japanese original by Reiko Oka, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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