President Barack Obama kicked off his week-long trip to Asia with a stop in Tokyo yesterday, enjoying an expensive lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukiyabashi Jiro, one of the world's most exclusive sushi restaurants. But while little is known about what may have been discussed during the meal, what may have been eaten is causing a much bigger stir.
Listed as the only menu item on the restaurant's website is the "Chef's Recommended Special Course." The $300 multi-course meal includes, among other things, sushi featuring bluefin tuna.
All three main types of bluefin tuna have been decimated from overfishing, with Atlantic and Southern bluefin varieties both listed as endangered. It's possible that the restaurant serves the less rare Pacific bluefin tuna, but researchers say that species too is endangered, even if its official status has yet to reflect it.
The International Scientific Committee, made up of scientists from the United States and Japan, found that overfishing and mismanagement have resulted in a 96.4 percent reduction in the population of Pacific bluefin -- a"historically low level" says the committee's findings.