Muslims studying in Japanese universities can find halal food in some of the campuses in the country. Our preliminary survey results about Japanese universities offering halal food services to their Muslim students seem to indicate, that many campuses have already started offering some type of halal foods to their Muslim students. The most important is the University of Tokyo, Honjo Campus.
The increasing awareness about halal food in the Japanese society and the government alike, and the announcement of upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020, have been the driving forces behind the surge in the halal food availability in many campuses around the country.
As the Muslim population around the globe is increasing, so is the number of Muslim students in Japanese universities and colleges. As a result, many food services companies serving foods in campuses have started noticing the trend in the global trend which is slowly creeping not only into the Japanese campuses but also the society at large.
Offering halal food at campuses could lure halal-conscious and observant Muslim students to spend more on their food stuff and ultimately create new revenue streams for universities in the country. Food service organizations in campuses can work collaboratively with students and organizations that have had the requisite experience and are willing to cooperate on this issue.
Suggestions for Muslim Students
On the basis of my personal experience living in a university campus in Japan some 18 years ago, I would like to suggest to the Muslim students on various campuses, to make an informal halal team, conduct a basic survey on the campus to justify that medical and religious needs require the authorities to serve halal food to their Muslim students who will be willing to spend more if the halal food is served on-campus. Be willing to cooperate and guide on the ingredients and the type of halal food their fellow Muslim students need, and assert their rights as a paying customer.
You could also suggest halal food service companies and the campus authorities to offer halal food on trial basis first, take the opinion of Muslim students, seek their preferences about tastes and types of halal food they want before going full swing.
What Is Halal?
While presenting the case for the availability of halal food in your campus, explain the authorities that halal simply means that something is permissible. halal foods are natural whole foods, or certified halal meat, poultry and processed food which are easily available from Halal food stores spread all over Japan.
Also clarify to the relevant authorities in your campus, that no alcohol should be used in cooking halal food or as part of a recipie (wines etc.). This is especially important as many food service companies and restaurants wrongly think that they can not prepare food without using at least some wine. You have got to dispel this notion if you truly want to get halal food on regular basis.
Another equally important point you need to stress to the authorities in the campus is -that no pork or pork by-products (bacon, ham, gelatin etc.) nor any non-halal meat or meat byproducts such as animal rennet in cheeses or animal based broths in foods should be used. Unfortunately, many Japanese restaurants wrongly think that bacon or ham are not meat products. So, you got to be careful while ordering food
You also need to train staff in campus kitchens in what makes food halal and how to cook and handle halal food. They need to avoid cross-contamination cooking, serving and storing halal food under all circumstances.
Although, the number of university campuses in Japan is currently not big enough, it could be increased by the support of Muslim students studying in the universities which do not offer halal food yet.