TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid an effort to express solidarity with Taiwan against China, "Taiwanese pineapple fever" has gripped Japan, with supermarket shelves being emptied of the Taiwan-grown tropical fruit.
On Feb. 26, Beijing announced it would ban all imports of Taiwanese pineapples, alleging that “harmful organisms” had been found in the fruit. Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) chastised China for its “unilateral decision,” which he deemed “unacceptable.”
To show support for Taiwan, Japanese companies had pre-ordered over 6,000 metric tons by March 4, shattering previous records. In addition, Japanese netizens spoke out in support of Taiwan with comments such as: "The CCP’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples just proves that they are of good quality. If the CCP doesn’t buy them, we Japanese will buy them. I bought some immediately and am eating them."
Japanese media reported that Taiwan is being "bullied" over its pineapple exports, and many outraged Japanese have vowed to buy Taiwanese pineapples to show their support. Over the weekend, what Taiwanese media described as "Taiwanese pineapple fever" spread across Japan.
Many Japanese netizens and Taiwanese living in the country have shared photos and information about where to buy pineapples in Japan. A Japanese netizen surnamed Matsuda posted a photo on the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Facebook page showing a shelf of Taiwanese pineapples selling for 599 Japanese yen (US$5.52) completely bare, while the pineapples grown in the Philippines selling for only 299 yen were still fully stocked.
Empty shelf for Taiwanese pineapples at Seiyu Group supermarket. (Facebook, 松田慶久 photo)
In the caption, Matsuda wrote that despite being twice the price of their Philippine counterparts, Taiwanese pineapples are quickly being snapped up at Japanese supermarkets. He claimed he would be willing to pay 900 to 1,000 yen for a Taiwanese pineapple but that they are already sold out by noon.
Seiyu Group supermarkets were only due to start selling the fruit that day, according to RTI. A notice at one Seiyu Group store read, "Taiwan pineapples are to be sold at a few branches and are scheduled to be on sale this month. We are sorry that the date of arrival and branches that will sell them have not yet been confirmed," reported CNA.
Matsuda told Liberty Times that he is a dentist who served as an interpreter when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Vice President Lai Ching-ten (賴淸德) visited Japan. Matsuda said in Mandarin that "We Japanese love the truly honest people of Taiwan. We don't like the CCP and the Kuomintang defrauding and bullying the Taiwanese."
He also cheered Taiwan on with the expression "jiayou" (加油) and expressed hope that Japan would pass its own version of the U.S.' Taiwan Relations Act to deepen ties between the two countries.
The head of the Taiwan External Trade Development Council in Tokyo, Chen Ying-hsien (陳英顯), told CNA that the Japanese supermarket chains carrying Taiwanese pineapples include LOPIA (Kanagawa and Chiba), BELX (Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Chiba), Tsuruya (Nagano and Gunma), IZUMI (Hiroshima), Santoku, Tokyu, Life, and Halows. Chen added that the director of BELX has said the store will have a special aisle for Taiwanese pineapples in conjunction with the peak of Taiwan's pineapple season next month, in addition to bananas, carrots, edamame, and other produce from Taiwan.
Empty shelf for Taiwanese pineapples at Life supermarket in Tokyo's Meguro District. (CNA photo)