udon              As a Japanese person just starting to study Halal, I eagerly ask Muslims in Japan to share their knowledge. I know that pork and alcohol, popular ingredients in Japanese cooking, are Haraam. That leaves me uncomfortable, especially when I am serving guests.


The answer is information. In countries like Japan with Muslim minorities, a critical point is, I believe, to provide accurate information about ingredients and cooking methods, in order to meet Halal requirements. That is vitally important not only for Muslims but for all consumers. When information is adequate, we can leave the decision about whether something is Halal or Haraam, or whether one wants to eat it or not, up to the consumer.


I have a number of Muslim friends from different countries whose religious beliefs are not always the same. I am not going to argue about whose beliefs are correct; to me and others in Japan, what matters is working hard to ensure that what we offer our guests pleases our Muslim friends. Truth be told, we have not put enough effort into addressing that issue properly, until now.


What about using alcohol as a disinfectant, for example? Studying Islamic teachings may make it possible to judge whether using alcohol to for sterilization would be acceptable.


Serving Halal foods is a part of Omotenashi. In Japan, the Halal question has also touched off an effort to learn more about the religious views of our friends from all over the world—an exploration that has only begun.