Students in Japan Confront the Eternal Question: Are Fish Pets, or a Tasty Snack?

Article by Heddi Bundt

Japanese children are being subjected to a controversial program called “Class of Life” which is part of the Sea and Japan Project. The goal of the program is to teach the students about land-based aquaculture.

The kids are given a bunch of small fish and raise them to maturity. This can take 6-12 months. The fish become pets, are given cute names and the children develop relationships with their finned friends. So far so good, right? I mean, a puppy would be more fun.  A cat might be more rewarding. But still, Nemo, and Charlie and Mr. Lippid all have their own appeal.

The students are told that they needed to become “the father and mother” of the fish, which means feeding and monitoring them and the water they live in. “They are like real friends,” said one.

If some of the fish die, the child gets “replacement” fish. (Call them Dory 2.0.) The hope is that they learn from their mistakes and improve their standard of care.

Once  the fish are mature, the kids are faced with the choice to kill and eat the fish or release them to the ocean. More than half of one class opted for death. A chef was then brought in and the class watched him turn Nemo and his friends into sashimi (which was then served for lunch). Some of the students were too upset to eat the meals, other heartless monsters dug into the feast of their children like modern-day Cronos.

The program leaders hope this will help the next generation have an appreciation for life and the food we consume.  What is less certain is the impact it will have on their parenting skills.

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