War Is Boring
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War Is Boring

Eating Too Much Rice Almost Sank the Japanese Navy

One doctor’s fight against the nutritional woes of a nation

At top — Japanese navy in action in 1894. Art via Wikipedia. Above — the Japanese ambassador’s flight from Korea. Art courtesy of Tokyo Keizai University

A beriberi big problem

He joined the beriberi-riddled navy in April 1872.

Kanehiro Takaki through the years. Jikei University photos

Naval nutrition

There wasn’t enough data for Takaki to really investigate the disease, so he started from zero.

The impact of Takaki’s reforms were bluntly obvious in the statistics. James Simpson graph

The proof is in the eating

Takaki fought hard to institute fixed diets—but the navy resisted, saying it would double the cost of feeding crews.

Beriberi was a significant problem for the Imperial Japanese Army during the First Sino-Japanese War. Einen painting

Unpalatable solutions

But Takaki also faced severe criticism from army doctors and academics.



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