japanesefood.gifWe've talked about lots of different ways blogs can be used here on TBR, but the blog written by the Japanese ministers of health provides us with some new material.  In response to increasing obesity rates in Japan, Vice-ministers Noritoshi Ishida and Keizo Takemi pledged in December to lose at least 5 kg (11 lbs).  To hold them to their promises, the ministry of health provided these officials with a blog where they track their progress, list the foods they are eating, and describe their exercise regiments.  According to the Washington Post, this strategy has worked for Takemi, who has surpassed his goal by losing about 16 lbs.


What's so remarkable about this topic isn't that these Japanese ministers are losing weight or that they are setting a good example of healthy lifestyles.  Rather, what I find interesting, is that this is an example of high-ranking officials using the internet in a real way. The vice minister admits that losing weight and sticking to a healthy diet hasn't been easy, but hopes that his experience will be helpful to others trying to lose weight.

I found this story quite surprising given the general lack of participation online by Japanese politicians and the overall informal nature of blogging in Japan. For example, while many American companies use blogs as a tool for marketing, discussing corporate issues, or reaching out to customers, it is quite uncommon for Japanese corporations to have official blogs (we discovered this last year when we were researching the prevalence of corporate blogs here in the states).  Similarly, when researching for our international political website study last year, we also read that while the Japanese were pioneers of using the web for political campaigns, this campaign tactic has fallen by the wayside–Japanese campaign websites were less common than their American counterparts.  The health blog of ministers Takemi and Ishida are thus setting a great example for politicians seeking to use the web in new, interesting, and productive ways.